Swiss App aims to counter hate speech online 

Volunteer users swipe left or right, training a "Bot Dog" to track hate speech online. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Women’s organisation Alliance F has launched a first Swiss App to track and counter hate speech on the Internet with the help of a volunteer community. 

This content was published on January 5, 2021 - 12:13

The platform, launched on Tuesday, uses technology developed by the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) and the University of Zurich. Volunteers who sign up on stophatespeech.chExternal link can, by swiping left or right, help train a “Bot Dog” to sniff out hate speech on the Internet. 

Alliance F. director Sophie Achermann told Swiss public broadcaster SRF that online hate speech has grown during the Covid-19 pandemic as people spent more time at home, and therefore this initiative is needed especially now. It is targeting all forms of degrading and insulting comments particularly against women, but not only. 

Once such comments have been identified, the community is encouraged to intervene in the same discussion to help counter them. Achermann says this is less about getting the individual to see reason than to show that most readers think differently. With decent counter-speech, the hate comments should carry less weight and have less influence, she explains. 

The platform carries advice to help users identify hate speech, as well as a “counter-speech” lab to discuss counter strategies. 

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