PROXI: Online Project against Xenophobia and Intolerance in Online Media (Unofficial translation)
Type of Information
- Case studies
- Media coverage
Institut Drets Humans de Catalunya (IDHC) and United Explanations (UNEX)
Alex Cabo Isasi (Login to send email)
Contact Person Function
Editorial and Content Coordinator
The project PROXI aims to contribute to preventing the appearance, development and spread of xenophobic and intolerant attitudes among the population in Spain. It identifies, analyses and disassembles arguments that feed online hate speech against migrants and Roma.
To do so, PROXI carries out two main tasks. First, it gathers, classifies and analyses comments made by readers that appear in news related to migrants or to Roma, published in the 3 largest Spanish online newspapers (El País, El Mundo and 20Minutos). Then, it comments in those same media to counteract hate speech arguments and to convey an alternative discourse. In addition, with the aim of building a network of activists to fight hate speech on newspapers websites, young people and opinion leaders are trained to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and tools to combat this type of speech and build an alternative discourse based on human rights.
Watch the video (in Spanish)
Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption
The economic crisis triggered the rise of intolerant attitudes against “the other”. Migrants and Roma people are the two minority groups that are often perceived as competitors for social welfare and jobs. As a result, they easily become the target of hate speech. Users comments in online newspapers are plagued with hate speech while the amount of an alternative, tolerant discourse are worryingly low.
The goal of the project PROXI is to increase the level of comments that may be defined as tolerant discourse towards migrants and Roma people, so that other readers do not find an overwhelming majority of hate comments. The assumption is that by making such alternative discourse available and more visible, negative comments will have a minor impact on readers.
How does it work
PROXI selects online news related to migrants and Roma and analyses users comments. Then, depending on the type of comments found, PROXI makes comments disassembling arguments used against migrants and Roma, and conveying an alternative and tolerant discourse towards each of those minority groups.
During 8 months, 4,451 comments have been compiled and analysed. 10.54% of which was found to be hate speech. 49.47% was considered as comments that contributed to hate speech and only 11.39% was found to be tolerant speech.
The project's team has posted more than 500 comments in over 400 news items, published a number of articles and infographics on topics related to migrants and Roma, and carried out several workshops and one online course on how to fight hate speech on the internet.
For the first objective, which was to identify, analyse and dismantle the arguments that fuel online hate speech, the project analysed nearly 5000 comments, over 60% of which were categorised as hate speech. The posts that published the classification and analysis of comments on the project's website had almost 10,000 visits throughout the year.
For the second objective, which was to educate and provide the knowledge, skills and resources to combat hate speech on the Web, the project performed two major activities:
- The publication of articles and infographics - with nearly 18,000 visits
- And the teaching of a virtual course on "Human Rights and hate speech", with the aim of training activists interested in fighting intolerance in networks. The course received 534 applications for 30 final participants.
The final evaluation report was published at the end of the September 2015, which assessed the results of the work carried out by PROXI. This report identified the difficulties in measuring the impact of the project as the amount of hate speeches depends on multiple factors (the media agenda, the articles’ language, the socio-economic situation, etc.)
It is important to highlight that the project’s target was not intolerant users, but their potential audience, the ambivalent readers, which are essentially passive participants in the forums. To quantitatively verify the impact of the feedback from the forums, it would be necessary to involve a large group of activists to increase the percentage of tolerant discourse and generate a multiplier effect to change the climate of opinion in forums. In this sense, the project started a campaign to create a community to collaborate against intolerance in the forums under the name of #ActúaconProxi, which had an immediate impact in denouncing hate speech and getting media (especially 20 minutos) to remove hateful comments reported by this network.
At qualitative level, there has been a clear impact of the project’s interventions in certain situations. It has facilitated the start of a multilateral dialogue in the forums, moderating the tone of the debate. Posting comments with an alternative discourse encourages others to join the discussion; and if the first 2 or 3 interventions are positive, the following comments tend to follow this trend.
Who will benefit?
The society in general benefits from PROXI's action and the migrant and Roma communities in particular as PROXI contributes to disassembling arguments and rumours against them.
Source of funding and Resources used
PROXI is 90% funded by the EEA Grants. The total budget of the project is 71,415.56 euros.
3 part-time workers plus volunteers were involved.