The conference, organized by Sofia Development Association in the framework of the project Coalition of Positive Messengers to Counter Online Hate Speech, co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Union, took place in Sofia on June 21 and 22, 2018. It gathered together around one hundred participants and speakers with 10 countries: Bulgaria, Great Britain, Greece, Georgia, Italy, Romania, Rwanda, Croatia and Czech Republic, among whom the Vice President of Bulgaria Mrs. Iliyana Yotova, Sofia Deputy Mayor Dr. Todor Chobanov, the Deputy Ministers Mrs. Monika Panayotova and Mrs. Denitsa Sacheva.
The conference included diverse formats: panel discussions; workshops on storytelling, on social media campaigns and providing support to hate speech victims; pitching available resources for combating online hate speech; photo exhibition and interactive games.
The conference concluded that since online hate speech is a global phenomenon, the societal response should be equally global and united. “In the refugee and migration crisis aggression, hatred and denial flourished,” said Iliyana Yotova and pointed out that the most important battle we are facing is the battle for the standpoint of youngsters.
According to Malina Edreva, Socia Municipal Council the challenge for public authorities is to establish a favourable environment: “We consistently convey a policy of fostering tolerance and mutual respect in our city. However, parallel to the physical city, there is a digital city that integrates information and creates public spaces. It is therefore critical to improve our support to NGOs working in that area, to promote good examples and make targeted efforts to make technologies that benefit us all.”