Blog post

Finding your voice – the role of social media in communicating human rights

Mon, 27 August 2018#HumanRightsMatter

Everyone now has a voice through social media. So human rights champions need to master the art of digital storytelling.

Compelling stories from YouTube’s Creators for Change have been viewed more than 60 million times. And their vlogs are really making a difference.

They have sparked conversations around social issues including xenophobia, bullying and extremism. All the time promoting a sense of inclusion and belonging with their audience.

Humza Arshad uses comedy to tackle radicalisation in UK schools, while Sikh hip hop artist, L-FRESH the LION explores his family’s experiences with racism.

But for every social media human rights success, there is a warning story for us too - new research is pointing to social media usage itself fanning the flames of hate. Social media is also proving an equally powerful tool for populist movements looking to demonise the most marginalised in society for political gain.

Noise from fake news, filters and algorithms mean people see only what they want to see. And many are switching off from the human rights message all together.

Attendees at the 2018 Forum see ‘effective communications’ as one of the main challenges facing human rights advocates today, particularly in a way which takes human rights messages outside of what some people refer to as the ‘activist bubble’.

Ani Zonneveld, of Muslims for Progressive Values and a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter attending the Forum, says we should personalise our social media output to reach more people - the #MeToo movement is the perfect example.

“People are tribal and for the most part only care about their own issues, so the framing needs to be inclusive.”

The 2018 Forum’s #HumanRightsMatter track will explore ways to communicate real human rights stories in new ways can burst the bubble for the message to reach new audiences.

Communicating human rights remains a strategic focus for FRA. Guiding this are the key principles of effective human rights communications which FRA will unpack during the Forum, as it moves towards developing a toolkit.

Communications will merge and flow within several of the Forum’s other tracks. The aim is to promote the values that underpin human rights as well as the rights themselves. To find new frames for human rights stories as powerful as the myths of opponents.

It will bring new voices into the world of human rights, including those who feel critical or indifferent, and try to take the messages wider than ever before.

#HumanRightsMatter will explore and encourage debate of policies, media and bureaucracy.

And its Ideathon engages human rights communicators to take what they see at the 2018 forum and share it with the world.

Now it’s time to use YOUR voice to make a difference. You can join the debate on social media, using the hashtag #RightsForum18 and follow regular updates on this website.

(Articles posted on this blog represent the views and opinions of the authors)

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