Technology and hate speech: friend or foe?

The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies and Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes (GAAMAC) are pleased to invite you to the second session of “Decoding Hate Speech”, a series of four high-level online conversations bringing together leading voices to discuss the linkages between hate speech, technology and atrocity prevention.

A decade ago, social media was an agent of positive change, enabling democratic movements, giving access to new knowledge, and empowering individuals and communities around the world. However, by revolutionizing the way we communicate and interact, the Internet and social media have also considerably amplified the rise of hate speech and polarization that we have seen in recent years. 

History has shown that hate speech often precedes the commission of serious human rights violations and atrocities. Online hate speech and the weaponization of social media have had violent impacts in places such as Myanmar and Sri Lanka, Eastern Europe, Syria, and even Charleston in the United States. National and international responses to this global phenomenon have been uneven. Some governments are hesitant to regulate freedom of speech while governments with authoritarian tendencies have imposed social media rules to crack down on activists and journalists.

Big Tech Companies, meanwhile, have failed to admit the inherent flaws of their platforms and business models that encourage outrage and hate speech, radicalize opinions and promote extremism and polarization. They have abdicated responsibility for malign activities on social media that have already affected the lives of people and the fate of nations. Their business interests are currently incompatible with democratic values and respect for human rights. Although some steps were taken, they remain opaque, fragmented, and inconsistent.

The second session of the “Decoding Hate Speech” series will address the complexity of this social media phenomenon with an informed and multi-partied approach to prevent the harmful effects of Big Tech on human rights, and develop strategies to make technologies work for the benefit of our societies.



  • Kyle Matthews, Executive Director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS)


  • Meetali Jain, Legal Director at Avaaz and international human rights lawyer
  • Savita Pawnday, Deputy Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Christopher Tuckwood, Executive Director of The Sentinel Project

Read the concept note.