Online spaces have grown significantly over the past ten years; the notion of virtual spaces for like-minded people has existed as long as the world wide web. Those who are old enough will recall the online chat rooms, which allowed many online users to talk to each other from various corners of the world and share ideas through instant messages in virtual chat rooms. Global-scale social media movements have been realized with the advent of Facebook, Twitter, and other similar Social Media platforms. At first, most users were interested in connecting to family members and friends whom they knew offline already. But as time progressed, we can see the trend shifting towards people connecting to ideas and movements. These allowed users to meet like-minded people online and follow causes and campaigns based on their convictions.
Have these online movements led to offline change? The answer to the question above could be yes, a slight change, or let us wait and see. There is no universal measure of and method of identifying the degree of the impact made by these online voices; one thing we cannot deny is their effectiveness in raising awareness and mobilizing people. In 2019 Sudan had the biggest, and by far, the most significant political change in its recent history. Sudan’s revolution was marked by the use of social media and online communication tools in a way never seen before.
As Sudan moves on the path for reformed and starts the process of democratic state-building and transformation; digital media is continuing to play a key role in shipping narratives and changing relates. This change can be seen in many aspects of the Sudanese Society today as youth take the lead in demanding better services and start online campaigns focusing on various societal issues.
#defyhatenow work in Sudan has started in 2018 with a focus on hate speech mitigation and tackling social prejudices amount Sudanese and South Sudanese communities. Given the current transitions, our focus in Sudan has shifted to include a larger framework that includes:
- Hate speech mitigation
- Fact-checking of misinformation
- Digital rights and human rights
- Peacebuilding and prejudice reduction