Montreal organization Fondation Émergence’s latest campaign for International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia brought the impact of online hate speech to the streets.
The social experiment campaign posted hateful messages in both English and French on posters around the city and the organization recorded the public’s shocked reactions. The video shows people stopping in their tracks to read the posters before police are called to intervene.
The goal was to show a double standard: people ignore these types of comments online but react strongly in real life.
“We are trying to say that if you would be really shocked in real life, why don’t you do anything when you see that online?” said Olivia Baker, communications officer for Fondation Émergence.
“Signal, report, erase or even respond if you think that it’s appropriate.”
The organization’s mission is to raise awareness on sexual and gender diversity.
Fondation Émergence created International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17, 2003. It started as a national day before evolving into an international day.
The focus of their campaigns change every year.
“We have to keep in mind that cyber homophobia and cyber transphobia don’t exist in a parallel world where it doesn’t affect anyone. Online violence has real consequences on real people,” said Baker.
This is especially true for students who get bullied at school and then go home and continue to get insulted and threatened on social media, she added.
More information can be found on the organization’s website where there is a section dedicated to reporting online hate speech.
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