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Post-Mortem: #NoHateSpeech action day on #IDAHO – critical reflection

May 21, 2013

On May 17th, activists of the No Hate Speech Movement#nohatespeech – have marked the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia – #IDAHO – by taking online actions and standing for human rights and against hate speech online.  I have blogged about the action in my previous blog and you can read it here.

In this blog post I will focus on two elements of the action:  the highlights of the action and low-lights, which can serve as a lessons learned for the upcoming European Action Days (hereafter EAD). Also, note that this blog post reflects my personal critical reflection on the first EAD of #nohatespeech movement and cannot be taken as a reflection of the activists, neither people involved in the campaign.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Activists of #nohatespeech movement

Although, the timeline to design and develop the EAD and its content on #IDAHO was very short, their commitment, investment and contribution has made possible the action day. Despite various challenges that activists have faced, they achieved to smoothly self-organize and give an oomph to the first EAD of #nohatespeech movement.

  • Thunderclap

Thunderclap is a crowd-speaking platform that helps people be heard by saying something together. A thunderclap was designed for the EAD and the goal was to reach 250 supporters. In the first glance it doesn`t sound as a big deal, but engaging 250 people in such a short time was a great achievement. Moreover, thunderclap showed that can bring a `social media blast` in a short time and engage new audience with the action. Definitely a recommended tool for the next actions!

  • Storify 

Storify is a social network service that lets the users create stories or timelines by integrating/using social media such as: Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, etc. Storify has proved to be very efficient on preparing reports and articles in real-time by using multiple online resources (a great example is the article prepared by the activist @KoberidzeGubaz on the manifestations in Georgia against LGBT community). Storify also helped the activists to put in one place the Twitter conversation and share in other social media channels (look at this example).

  • Engaging influencers in Twitter by activists

Another win of the first EAD was engaging with Twitter influencers, such as: Stephan Fry team (although not directly involved), high-profile activists – Peter Thatcher, international organizations like Amnesty; official institutions – Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Fundamental Rights Agency, etc. Except that these influencers bring an added visibility and value to the EAD and campaign itself, they can play a key role on the future actions. Hence, maintaining these relationships and building other partnerships are key elements for the upcoming actions and social media activities.

  • Agility

It`s not anymore cool preparing and investing in a long-term strategies on actions and campaigning. The times have changed and now the organizations and activists more and more are shifting from traditional actions and campaigning into more dynamic, collaborative, participatory and cross-functional actions by using multiple medias and technologies. Agility it supports the adaptive planning, evolutionary development,  a time-boxed iterative approach alias `sprints`, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change. The EAD has had a twist of agility on it; the activists have self-organized into cross-functional small teams and worked on various contents. Additionally, the features of the action were more adaptive and implemented on several sprints to build the momentum, raise awareness on the action day and engage new audience.

  • TAGSexplorer

TAGSexplorer is a courtesy tool of @mhawksey which makes possible to users to archive and explore the entire event hashtag and reply any of conversations, by using a combination of Google Spreadsheets as a data source and a simple web interface to add interactivity. I setup a TAGSexplorer for the EAD and there were around 1000 tweets archived, which provide very interesting data from Twitter and allows users to check out who engaged during the EAD. This tool is a big win!

LOWLIGHTS

  • Timeline to prepare the action

I don`t really remember how much time was given to the activists to prepare the action, but definitely there was just few time! And due to lack of timing, a lot of elements of the action have been developed rapidly, but not reflecting critically on them – if they work or not! Also, the time pressure leads the community of activists to take fast decisions (very often on facebook thread of comments) and this raises couple of questions for the future actions: who made the decisions for the elements of actions? Does the community supports and follows them? Who propose the next steps? Etc. However, in order to avoid this lowlight, more time should be given to the activists for better planning of actions.

  • No Hate Speech Facebook group

I personally do consider that closed facebook groups are one of the most frustrated environments for activists to self-organize for actions. First, they are not secure, second they are not user-friendly and third they lack a lot of collaborative features. And following all the comments and notification system is time-consuming and not fruitfull at all. Instead, activists should use other alternative environments for organizing actions such as Elgg  or N-1.

  • Pledgeblank

Is a website which allows users to create and run online pledges on various causes.  The website is not user-friendly and it consumed the time of activists to design the pledge on it. Also, the features of the pledge are very static and not visually attractive. From my perspective, the pledgeblank was a waste of time and if you don`t put lots of efforts and thoughts on how you design it and engage the decision makers to sign the pledge, it can easily fail.

  • Official Facebook Page

Facebook is the main social network used by organizations and nonprofits to raise awareness and promote actions. Although, an event for the action was created, the official Facebook page of the No Hate Speech Movement was very passive. Although, during the action day the facebook page has got more active, but there was a lack of original content. Consequently, a general engagement of the audience with the content of the Facebook page was low. Facebook page should be used more wisely and put more efforts on it, in order to build the momentum for the actions, engage the audience in debate and conversations on the #IDAHo-related topics.

  • Official Twitter account 

The last thing you can do with a Twitter account is to connect it with Facebook and automatically Tweet Facebook posts!
Activists all around the world harness Twitter to update in real time what`s happening, engage in conversations, raise awareness, build community and even self-organize. Unfortunately, the official Twitter account @nohate_speech have had low-profile until couple of days before the EAD. Hence, opening the twitter account for the activists, handling to them for 1-2 weeks, making it more participatory, would be an interesting test to try it out. In the end of the day if Sweden did it, why not the @nohate_speech movement?!

  • No Hate Speech official website 

The official website of #nohatespeech movement is visually good, but it lacks the main elements of a dynamic platform as intended to be; currently the website is not interactive, participatory and even to join the movement with the photo it require an Instagram or Flickr account, which is very tricky! However, a lot of activists, friends and colleagues have complained for the lack of information for EAD in the website. Although, the homepage of the website should serve as the main page to provide the latest news, call to action, etc, this has completely missed. At last but not least – the Hate Speech Watch is not very appropriate element for reporting hate speech cases and the question is what happened with the reports about homophobia and transphobia during the action day? How do we handle them? How do we debate them? And how do we react against them?

  • Collaborative tools

The social web and new emerging technologies provides today a great variety of collaborative tools to organize the work and speed up the development of the action. Therefore, we failed this time to use several collaborative tools that could save the time and make the performance of the activist more efficient. Perhaps, some of the following tools should be considered for the next actions: Google Hangout, Dotstorm, Etherpad, Pastebin, etc.

  • Lack of visual identity 

Every action needs a visual identity with whom the audience could identify. The graphic design is a crucial part of each action or campaign. We missed this element in the action and we struggled with it. A lot more original content could be prepared for social media if the designing skill could exist in the community of activists. Perhaps, having a graphic designer on-baord would be a next win for the EAD and the Campaign itself?

 

 

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