Rewind, a Spanish project to do away with hate on the Internet

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Rewind, a Spanish project to do away with hate on the Internet

The eight members of the Rewind project team.
The eight members of the Rewind project team.

Their goal: encouraging Internet users to think before they write and to share opinions that are based on facts and logic rather than impulse. Their name: Rewind. They are the largest Spanish-speaking community against cyber-bullying and hate speech on the Internet. The architects: eight students from Madrid-based San Pablo CEU University who got together to fight irrational hatred and cyber-bullying on social media.

The initiative was born in the context of Peer to Peer: Facebook Global Digital Challenge, an international competition open to university student teams from all over the world to counter the pervasiveness of hate and extremism on social media. The San Pablo CEU University team won the European final, which took place at the annual conference of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna on 27 June.

The Spanish team was made of second-, third- and fourth-year students from the School of Humanities and Communication Studies, covering a variety of fields of expertise. They will be heading for Washington, USA, soon, to take part in the big final on 19 July. ‘Our hopes are high; we believe we can win,’ says Gonzalo Hidalgo (Marketing and Advertising). ‘We just have to make a clear, straightforward, effective presentation that persuades the judges that our project is worth the while,’ adds teammate Laura García (Journalism).

Rewinding is in vogue

The Rewind project has a symbol: a fast reverse emoji, used to mark hate speech and extremism in social media posts. In the words of Leonor Muñoz (Advertising and Public Relations), ‘People can use this emoji in reply to nasty remarks. If a post has many rewind emojis, this will indicate there’s the seed of hatred. It could be a good tool not only for users but for digital platforms as well, to make it easier for administrators to control some contents,’ says

Identifying with the user

Rewind was warmly welcomed in social media, found attractive by users. ‘We soon realised that most programmes created at universities fail to go beyond university circles, as their style isn’t user-friendly,’ Gonzalo explains.

So the makers of Rewind set out to create simple contents in the usual social media style, so that users could feel identified and have fun at the same time. ‘The idea was to have influence not only because of the topics chosen but also with the messages conveyed,’ he adds.

Irrespective of the outcome of the big final in Washington, Rewind will carry on. The team is planning to keep working to improve ethics among young – and not so young – Internet users.

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