Interventions to counter hate speech (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1116)



What evidence is there that programming interventions on countering hate speech have been effective, and what examples are there of proven successful interventions?


There is limited evidence on the effectiveness of interventions to counter hate speech. There is a lack of rigorous impact evaluations in this area and those that do exist tend to focus on individual case studies.

Interventions to counter hate speech which have had some success include:

  • Television programmes: In Kenya four episodes of a popular television series were broadcast. All the episodes focused on hate speech and incitement to violence. An independent evaluation of the intervention suggests that the programmes made citizens in areas prone to violence more sceptical of political leaders who use inflammatory language.
  • Radio programmes: A Dutch NGO called Radio La Benevolencija has used radio dramas, discussions and educational programmes to enable vulnerable citizens in conflict-affected countries to recognise and respond to inflammatory speech. Search for Common Ground has also used this approach in Côte d’Ivoire.
  • Text messages: Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Indonesia and Kenya have successfully used text messages to counter rumours and inflammatory speech in areas prone to ethnic violence.
  • Monitoring hate speech: Monitoring hate speech is often used as a foundation for other interventions to counter hate speech. In Kenya, the Umati project created a database of hate speech in the run-up to the country’s 2013 election.
  • Self-regulatory media systems: In Iraq the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) supported local media stakeholders in the establishment of a self-regulatory media system, in order to reduce the prevalence of hate speech in the media. However, in Kenya many experts viewed self-regulation or self-censorship at the time of the country’s 2013 general election as negative, as they felt that the media was not fulfilling its role as a watchdog.


Strachan, A.L. Interventions to counter hate speech (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1116). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2014) 8 pp.

Interventions to counter hate speech (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1116)

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