Toronto, ON – March 30, 2022 – The Canadian Coalition to Combat Online Hate announced the launch of their new website CombatOnlineHate.ca, providing youth, parents, educators, and policymakers with strategic tools to be effective in their efforts to identify and combat online hate.
Accessible now, the website is an online resource with information and training materials to assist those learning, or educating others, about how to identify online hate accurately and react appropriately. The resources focus on examining Media and Information Literacy (MIL), understanding how the Internet is leveraged to spread and incite hate and prejudice, how radicalization occurs, and how youth encounter hate online.
The tools shared aim to encourage policymakers to enact stronger controls on online hate speech. Also, they will provide Canadians with strategies for building critical thinking skills in young people to help them understand the nature of online hate, how they may be targets, and how to push back when they encounter bias, stereotyping, misinformation, and hatred online. Tools include guides for issues, action, and advice, tutorials, educational games, articles, and links to other agencies with supplemental resources.
“Canadians are exposed daily to a barrage of hateful and divisive online messages that pollute social media forums with content that is antisemitic, anti-Black, anti-Asian, anti-Indigenous, misogynistic, Islamophobic, and homophobic, and that promotes conspiracy theories. These posts, videos, and memes are easily discoverable and readily shared, often masked by anonymity or given undue credibility,” said Richard Marceau, Vice-President, External Affairs and General Counsel at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). “We know that online hate can become real-life violence. Hate-motivated murders at Christchurch’s Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre and at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue stand as notable examples. It is incumbent on all of us, before it is too late, to combat online hate with the most effective tools available.”
According to a 2021 survey by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, 42 percent of respondents have seen or experienced hateful comments or content inciting violence online, and younger and racialized Canadians are significantly more likely to be confronted with this hate. The same study indicated that 93 percent of Canadians believe that online hate speech and racism are problems, of which 49 percent believe they are “very serious” problems. Findings also showed that at least 60 percent of Canadians believe that the federal government has an obligation to pass regulations preventing hateful and racist rhetoric and behaviour online. Only 17 percent prefer no government involvement at all.
“We saw COVID exacerbate online hate exponentially as stress levels and political division rose amid lockdowns. By working together, we can make the communities we are building online – and, by extension, the communities we inhabit offline – safer places for all Canadians,” said Marceau.
In April 2021, key industry players, community representatives and thought leaders came together at the Action Summit to Combat Online Hate organized by the Canadian Coalition to Combat Online Hate to exchange information and develop guiding principles for actions to tackle online hate. As a follow-up to the Summit, the Coalition has developed this online resource.
CombatOnlineHate.ca is organized by the Canadian Coalition to Combat Online Hate, funded by the Government of Canada Department of Canadian Heritage, and powered by CIJA.
Additional Quotes from Coalition Members:
“We came together as a Coalition of groups representing different marginalized communities building inter-movement solidarity with one purpose: to ensure everyone has equal protection – and all Canadians are free from online hate. We are grateful to see that our objective is shared by the vast majority of Canadians and look forward to concrete action.”
– Rev. Jeff Rock, Metropolitan Community Church
“The derision, hostility and abuse encouraged by online hate speech have profound negative effects on the individual’s sense of self-worth, dignity, and safety that form the foundation of their freedom to participate fully in democratic society. Online hate has no place in modern society. Let’s put an end to it.”
– Humura Association
“The continued proliferation of online hate and disinformation presents a serious danger to civil society. Those whose worldview is inspired by an echo chamber of hateful beliefs and conspiracy theories sow division and radicalization and threaten the very fabric of our democratic institutions. It is imperative for us to unite in addressing this ever-present danger by establishing strong networks to counter online hate, including educational and legal tools. Canada’s 2019 “Report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights,” which studied online hate, provides an excellent roadmap and strategies to move forward.”
– Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada
“Words are important, and words can harm. Asserting common standards to prevent online hate is one step in building a society where words are used to promote dignity, true respect, and healthy communities.”
– Rev. Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
“Our online environment is ultimately a mirror reflection of our society. We live in a world in which prejudice is propagated by many people, even those who do not intend to provoke violent actions. We all share a responsibility to promote fellowship and concord, and not to stoke the fires of fanaticism and prejudice.”
– The Bahá’í Community of Canada
“Online platforms have become a weapon of choice in disseminating hate and lies, behind a protective screen that allows the most vulnerable to become a target. If we continue to leave this space unchecked, we undermine the values of building a safe and just society for all. The inaction is emboldening violence against women, children, racialized and minoritized groups across Canada and the world. It is essential that accountable action be taken against online hate and hate speech be seen as the violent weapon it is.”
– Sharanjeet Kaur, Vice President, World Sikh Organization
“Hate has no place in this world, virtually or in real life. As an organization whose mission is to counter anti-Black racism in all ways possible, we know that hate speech against our community is often perpetuated in those spaces. That’s why we are taking a stand with other stakeholders in this coalition to ensure that online hate against any marginalized groups is addressed and eradicated.”
– The Federation of Black Canadians
“The online space provides hate groups and foreign actors limitless resources to target vulnerable populations while giving them an opportunity to evade accountability. It is our collective duty as Canadians to combat this form of hate by taking concrete action to end such behaviour within our cyberspace and advocate for the creation of the necessary mechanisms to hold the culprits accountable.”
– Armenian National Committee of Canada
As a founding member of the Canadian Coalition to Combat Online Hate, CIJA is issuing this press release on behalf of all members.
About the Canadian Coalition to Combat Online Hate
Established in spring 2020, the Coalition to Combat Online Hate comprises a diverse array of communities and organizations representing those who have experienced online vitriol firsthand. They have come together with a purpose: to protect marginalized communities – and all Canadians – from online hate. The full list of Coalition members can be found here.
About The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations across Canada.
About the Anti-Racism Action Program (ARAP)
The Anti-Racism Action Program (ARAP) is one important means by which the Government of Canada implements Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy. Learn more.
Director, Media Relations and GTA Communications