Social media was among the key tools of the “Arab Spring” revolts towards democracy and accountability, as it was used to identify goals, build solidarity and organize demonstrations. But digital social media initiatives were spontaneous and individual without any proper and professional management, as is the case now with hate speech, anonymous bullying, and xenophobic and discriminatory campaigns.
In 2013, MCF partnered with the US embassy of Lebanon in order to teach budding activistis how to utilize social media for peace building. This project aimed to enhance the cyber activists’ ability to continue to play a critical role in their evolving societies, by building solidarity across class, ethnicity and confession. In order to do so, MCF-MI selected group of 10 individuals of different nationality, religion and sect, all living in Lebanon, to lead on this initiative. They underwent a unique training program at the Institute’s premises, delivered by prestigious Lebanese media expert and adviser to the Qatari government Roland Abi Najem and trainers as well as the leading online news partal’s managing editor Hanin Ghaddar. The program included modules on conflict resolution, peace building, digital media, social media and networking, campaigning and advocacy tools, in addition to an applied course on online campaigning for peace building. The participants then trained 10 selected beneficiaries from their respective regions or communities on these e-modules.
At the end of the program, a network of 100 young influencers led a massive online campaign promoting dialogue and peace. A media kit was also shared among all beneficiaries as a benchmark for future media and peace training programs.
MCF-MI supported the trainers with hands-on knowledge and followed up on their campaigns as part of their sustainability program in order to fulfil the mission statement of fostering good governance, capacity building, and development.
MCF is exploring further opportunities to contribute in lessening the negative use of media that regresses any attempts at peace, partnership, and integrity.