The corrosive role social media can play in the dissemination of hate and incitement to violence has become painfully obvious in recent years: In Myanmar, Facebook’s reach was exploited to carry out a systematic hate campaign against the Rohingya people; in the Christchurch Mosque Shootings, a gunman broadcast his actions live on Facebook; and in the aftermath of the Sri Lanka Easter Bombings, social media was used to incite violence against Muslim citizens.
At the same time, social media has the potential to contribute to positive change. It offers new spaces for dialogue to billions of people, which has become even more relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic. This session will ask two key questions about the intricate and relatively unexplored interplay between social media and peacebuilding: Firstly, how should the challenges of online hate speech and disinformation be approached at a policy level? And secondly, how can social media be used as a force for good in peacebuilding?