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Monday December 6th, 2021
Arts and Culture

Sri Lanka, Maldives youth to get new skills to counter hate speech in social media

ECONOMYNEXT – Social media influencers in Sri Lanka and the Maldives who are countering online hate could sharpen their skills in a program launched by the United Nations Development Program and the European Union.

“COVID-19 has heightened concerns around the spread of hate speech, misinformation, and negativity online,” Robert Juhkam, Resident Representative for UNDP in Sri Lanka said in a statement.

“However, young people in Sri Lanka have shown a desire and ability to drive positive change for themselves and their communities, particularly on social media to overcome this.”

The UNDP skill development programme aims to boost positive co-creation by aspiring youth to counter the growing online hate speech, misinformation and division in the region.

United Creatives will support the youth to build digital campaigns that offer alternatives to hate speech, both online and on-the-ground. Applications will be open till January 18, 2021, at https://www.unitedcreatives.online/.

‘United Creatives’ is implemented by the social change agency Love Frankie.

Participants will gain access to training, mentorship, and tools to build creative online campaigns over ten weeks through UN specialists, Facebook masterclasses, social leaders, and a range of thematic and creative experts.

Only top 40 applications between the ages 18-30 will be selected for the training program.

“The COVID-19 pandemic made us realize the power of social media – both positively and negatively,” Akiko Fujii, UNDP Resident Representative in the Maldives said.

“It is critical that the young generation is empowered with the skills to effectively use social media for creating a cohesive and just world.

Participants will also take part in a range of sessions including building emotional intelligence, creating empathic and engaging narratives, using ‘art-ivism’ (art activism) and new creative mediums for engagement, as well as understanding and calling for positive policy action, the UNDP said.

“We need to make better use of social networks, to attenuate their role in disinformation,” Denis Chaibi, EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

“The European Union is therefore proud to support digital peace initiatives such as the one promoted by UNDP in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

“In COVID times, it is crucial that we encourage young people to counter prejudice and polarization through courage and veracity, and to equip them with the digital skills required to do so.” (Colombo/Jan13/2020)

Reported by Mahadiya Hamza

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