Los Angeles, Ca

A network of tens of thousands of online volunteers is fighting hate speech on Facebook. They organise under the slogan "#IAmHere".

It's 7:30 in Berlin, and Nina's alarm clock is going off. Before getting up and making breakfast for her 13-month-old daughter, who is sleeping in the next room, she reaches for her phone.

Unlike many of us, Nina's not checking her emails, the news, or looking at gossip sites or posting photos. Instead, every day Nina opens up Facebook and heads straight to the closed group #IchBinHier ("#IAmHere").

Nina is part of an international movement working to find and combat hate speech on the platform. She and her fellow #IAmHere members spend their spare time scanning Facebook for conversations happening on big pages, often run by mainstream media organisations, which are overwhelmed with racist, misogynistic or homophobic comments.

They don't attempt to change the minds of people posting hate or argue directly with extremists. Instead they collectively inject discussions with facts and straightforwardly argued reasonable viewpoints. The idea is to provide balance so that other social media users see that there are alternative perspectives beyond the ones offered up by the trolls.

The volunteers also say they don't target conservative views or any other mainstream opinions. Instead #IAmHere activists - there are tens of thousands of them in groups across Europe and around the world - say their mission is to change the overall tone of online debate, counteract hate storms and make Facebook a nicer place overall.

And the social media giant has picked up on the phenomenon. Facebook has provided #IAmHere groups with free advertising credits and helps them organise meet-ups as part of its Online Civil Courage Initiative.

Why do they do it?

Nina, 39, says she spends around three hours a day moderating comments on top of her full-time job as director of an NGO. But she has very personal reasons for devoting a large chunk of her busy schedule to the campaign.

Her husband is from Uganda, and she says they both have felt angry and scared by what they perceive as a rise in racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric on social media over the past few years.

"As a couple in this still very white Germany, we are exposed in a way," she says. "I think our feeling that we have to change something got stronger.

"I cannot imagine [my daughter] growing up and reading all these things. I do not want this culture."




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