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ANA creates an educational program to target online hate speech

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The Association of National Advertisers on Wednesday continued its push to address and combat online hate speech, by creating a new educational program.

Part of a larger initiative by the trade group, the educational program rolled out a new website in collaboration with the Better Business Bureau. The site features 36 video training modules and a resource library with Spanish-language versions, covering topics like how to report hate speech on social media and how to diffuse harmful content.

Now in its second year, the so-called Engage Responsibly initiative is led by ANA and the Global Alliance for Responsible Media. The program was founded and funded with a donation by French beverage company Pernod Ricard to help combat hate speech in the industry, from brands to platforms.

“I think it’s progressing very well with all of our key milestones being achieved on our timetable,” said Bill Tucker, group evp of ANA that oversees the initiative. “There is research that shows people want to do more about this. They want to do something, but they don’t always know what to do.”

There is research that shows people want to do more about this. They want to do something, but they don’t always know what to do.
Bill Tucker, group evp, ANA

The organizations hope the effort will serve as supplemental learning for consumers and employees of small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), Tucker added. The material aims to help people understand what they can do, which varies depending on the environment as well as the type of social platform. There are guides covering how to report instances of hate speech from Twitch to YouTube, for example.

“Reporting is certainly one of the most important [elements], but learning about it and understanding it and how toxic it is, is as important as taking action. That’s why it’s an educational effort that will move people to take action,” Tucker said.

The new educational site will get promoted to BBB’s SMB network of 6 million members and more than 90 chapters. The two organizations will also kick off an ad campaign developed with Ogilvy in Q4 to engage businesses and consumers.

The Anti-Defamation League has found that 40% of Americans have experienced online hate due to their racial, religious or sexual identities — and of those, 20% reported having a difficult time sleeping and focusing, while another 13% had severe mental health challenges.

Yale Cohen, evp of global digital standards at Publicis Media Exchange, told Digiday that online harassment and hate speech issues are becoming more common, raising the importance of driving more collaboration across advertisers, agencies and platforms.

“These numbers are expected to continue growing, and the industry needs new mechanisms to help create a healthier online ecosystem today and for future generations,” Cohen said.

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