#FacebookCanada; #OnlineHate; #OntarioTechUniversity; #GlobalNetworkAgainstHate
Ottawa, Jul 28 (Canadian-Media): Faced with a rising tide of online hate and advertiser boycotts, Facebook Canada has decided to team up with Ontario Tech University's Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism to create what it calls the Global Network Against Hate, media reports said.
Ontario Tech University. Image credit: Twitter handle
Image credit: Twitter handle
The network is being granted $500,000 over five years by the giant tech Facebook, and is being tasked to spot emerging trends in online extremism and developing strategies, policies and tools to counter them.
The step taken is the result of warnings from experts like Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism that a wave of online hate postings in Canada and elsewhere over the coming months can be driven due to the coronavirus pandemic and the upcoming U.S. election campaign, hate that could spill over to the offline world.
"I think we're going to see an escalation rather than a decrease in this sort of activity, online and offline...I think that [U.S. President Donald] Trump has already signalled a willingness to amp things up on his end...that is going to influence and further harden the resolve of people on the far right and the COVID lockdowns are going to exacerbate the patterns that we have already seen," said Perry, CBC News reported.
Facebook's partnership with Ontario Tech was originally planned to be announced in March but it was delayed by the pandemic.
Although critics might consider $500,000 over five years too little, too late, but Perry said it would at least enable her organization's ability to monitor hate and violent extremism online.
Perry added that her centre has also received funding from the federal Department of Public Safety and the Department of National Defence.
Perry said 6,600 Canadian groups, channels, accounts and pages with right-wing extremism across seven social media platforms, which collectively reached over 11 million users had been identified by a recent interim study by her centre and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue between January 2019 and January 2020.
The most dangerous threats emerging online, said Perry, are the incel movement and so-called "accelerationist" groups like the pro-gun, anti-government Boogaloo Boys, who profess that America is headed for a second civil war and want to speed its arrival.