CEPO launches social media campaign #PeaceJam against online hate speech
On Wednesday 21 September, the International Day of Peace, the Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation (CEPO) and its Twitter hashtag #Defyhatenow will hold a three hour social media campaign, #PeaceJam. The aim is to counter hate speech on the internet by flooding its social media platforms with peace messages.
James Badali, CEPO’s Communication and Research Officer, encourages peace-promoting organizations and individuals to post messages of peace and reconciliation online on CEPO’s #PeaceJam Facebook and Twitter platforms.
“We will then collect and share peace messages and short videos on different social media platforms. Together we can send out these messages to South Sudanese yearning for peace both within the country and in the diaspora”, he told Radio Miraya in a phone interview.
Mr. Badali explains that the campaign is needed to “educate the South Sudanese public in general and those who have used social media platforms to spread hatred and incite violence in particular. He is convinced that some of the negative online messaging has exacerbated the armed conflict in the very real reality of South Sudan.
“We need to counter online conflict rhetoric and hate messages so that social media platforms can be used to promote peace and reconciliation instead. That is, in fact, the sole idea behind the hashtag #Defyhatenow”, the CEPO Officer says, adding that “action is needed now, not later”.
James Badali does, however, concede that internet penetration in South Sudan is on the low side. Fortunately, he has worked out a plan to avoid excluding the vast majority of the South Sudanese from the campaign: a combination of social media peace messaging and physical outreach activities will be used to link online communities and individuals with their offline peers.
“We want to share messages generated by the #PeaceJam with communities that are deeply rooted in the bushes and in the villages. We need to try other avenues to reach these people, so we also have an outreach programme that will be going on. The final result will be holding a basketball peace tournament.”