Hate speech flared up online after the alleged coup d'etat in Juba in December 2013.
Using platforms such as Facebook, South Sudanese people affiliated with the government, opposition and other rebel groups started to generate hate speech and misinformation online. This spread across the country like wildfire.
South Sudanese people living in diaspora in countries such as the USA, Australia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda also became involved. In time, they have become active participants in spreading hate speech and creating harmful content.
In 2015, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Skype live video started to be used by factional individuals to fan the conflict in South Sudan.
The spreading of hate speech, misinformation and fake news in (and about) South Sudan led to several ethnic groups and many individuals being targeted, and in some cases physically hurt.
People are starting to realise that hate speech needs to be tackled.
Many state and non-state actors have continued to work around hate speech awareness and hate speech mitigation in South Sudan. The strategies differ in forms of intervention and their target audiences.
For instance, the South Sudanese National NGO Screen of Rights has been working on advocacy and campaigns to educate the public on the dangers of hate speech and how to combat it.
In addition, the work of PeaceTech Lab has been instrumental in building the capacity of organizations working on hate speech mitigation.
This level of intervention is vital in building an ecosystem that is able to counter hate speech in all its forms.
PeaceTech Lab primarily does this through its flagship project the “Hate Speech Terms Lexicon” and its hate speech monitoring reports. These resources are available to any CSOs to use for furthering their work.
To better understand how fake news, incitement to violence and hate speech affect the health of public discussions in and about South Sudan, #DefyHateNow has been gathering data from South Sudanese media consumers.