Bayero University University Competes on the Global Scene; Joins Facebook Global Digital Challenge

Mohammed Dahiru Lawal

Students from various Faculties and Departments of Bayero University Kano has launched a campaign to counter hate based speeches as a result of its increasing proliferation on the Internet.

The campaign which is part of the Spring 2019, Peer to Peer: Facebook Global Digital Challenge, is geared towards making a social impact on internet behaviour especially as it involves posts and comments considered debasing and inflammatory by the receiving party.

Themed “HeartUmight,” the campaign will be focusing on ethnic based hate speeches as a bane on our collective unity and source of other divisive tendencies with a view to inspiring at risk youths and the silent majority into countering such narratives online.

Speaking at the launch of the Campaign on Monday 22nd April 2019, the Faculty Coordinator of the program, Dr. Nura Ibrahim, who is also the Head of the Department of Information and Media Studies said, “With the launch of this campaign, we are not only hoping to win but also hoping to have a sustainable social impact that will have rippling effect across board and change the story of our online culture especially as it relates to ethnic based hate speech.”

Speaking further, Dr. Nura said, “Our long term aims are clearly mapped out and our vision is to create an online inclusive society where culture and diversity is unified.”

Also speaking, Dr. Muhammad Danja the Staff Adviser for the campaign and also a lecturer with the Department expressed enthusiasm about the campaign. “Though this is a build up on our previous efforts, it was necessary for us to look inward and design a campaign that would stand firm and scale up in line with the overall goal of the challenge this season and I am optimistic that we would make a mark.”

On his part, the team lead, Muhammad Dahiru Lawal a 300Level Student of the Department of Information and Media Studies explains that, “In planning our strategy for the Campaign, we discovered that apart from religious based hate speeches, ethnic based hate speech are basically the most dominant in our online trails as indicated by our preliminary research, hence we decided to design a campaign that is unifying.

“Basically from the theme of our Campaign HeartUmight, the “U” in the middle stand for two things “You” and “Unite” so it literally translates into ‘the heart has a great might, only the heart loves and only the heart hates, only You can Unite.'”

Also speaking, another member of the team from Accounting department, Olumide Gabriel Areo explains that, “as part of our sustainability and community involvement plan, we hope to partner with organizations that are already working on hate speech such as CITAD, DiHub and Start up Kano. We also hope to collaborate with government agencies such as the Ministry of Culture and Education and the National Orientation Agency as we will be inspiring anti hate speech clubs across second and higher institutions.”

Other members of the Team include Sadiya Murtala a final year student of Mass Communication, Wasil Hassan Ibrahim a computer engineering Students, Faruq Ahmad an Islamic Studies Student, Yasir Rabiu, Sule Mathew, Safiya Garba students of Information and Media Studies respectively, among other participants.

According to research by the Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), since 2017, ethnic based hate speech has been on an alarming increase almost at par with religious hate speech at 44% while all other categories of hate speech put together made up of 620 items make up for just 22%.

The research also shows that Facebook is the most dominant platform used for hate speech at 51% with YouTube accounting for 0%.

The P2P Challenge which seeks to inspire counter narrative against such rising trend is sponsored by Facebook and managed by EdVenture Partners (EVP).

As at the end of the Fall 2018 term, the P2P Challenge has been implemented over 695 times at over 400 universities in 75 countries and 40 U.S. states. P2P has generated over 200
million combined online and offline impressions since its inception in spring 2015.