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Ohio Becomes First U.S. State To Allow Businesses To Pay Taxes With Bitcoin

Ohio has just become the first U.S. state and one of the first governments in the world to allow businesses to pay taxes, including sales and public utility taxes, with bitcoin.

State Treasurer Josh Mandel announced Monday that businesses can now register for the program through the website OhioCrypto.com, a portal that will, via a third-party processor called BitPay, convert the digital currency into dollars that will then be deposited into the state’s accounts.

Businesses that operate in Ohio will be able to use bitcoin to pay for 23 different types of taxes, Mandel’s office said in a press release. A 1-percent fee will be levied on each transaction, per AP.

“We are proud to make Ohio the first state in the nation to accept tax payments via cryptocurrency,” Mandel said in a statement. “We’re doing this to provide Ohioans more options and ease in paying their taxes and also to project Ohio’s leadership in embracing blockchain technology.”

Mandel said bitcoin will be the only cryptocurrency accepted for now but said he “looks forward to adding other cryptocurrencies in the future.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, individual filers in Ohio, and not just businesses, will eventually also be able to pay their taxes with bitcoin.

Mandel, who has developed an interest in cryptocurrency in recent years and referred to bitcoin as a “legitimate form of currency,” told the Journal that he hopes other states will follow Ohio’s example.

Ohio’s move comes at a bad time for bitcoin, which has seen its value plummet in recent months. CNBC reported Monday that the price of a single bitcoin has dropped more than $15,000 since last December.

Facebook Admits To Targeting Billionaire George Soros In PR Attack

Facebook officials on Wednesday admitted to digging up dirt on Jewish billionaire George Soros and its competitors less than a week after The New York Times published an explosive exposé on the tech giant.

Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s head of communication and policy, published a blog post detailing the company’s decision to hire Definers Public Affairs, a Republican opposition research firm, and why it aimed its effort at the company’s critics, including Soros.

“Some of this work is being characterized as opposition research,” Schrage wrote. “But I believe it would be irresponsible and unprofessional for us not to understand the backgrounds and potential conflicts of interest of our critics.”

Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied having any knowledge of the company’s PR campaign against Soros until the Times investigation, which also found negative campaigns aimed at Apple and Google, was made public. 

Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer, also denied having knowledge of the hiring of Definers. However, in a statement supplementing Schrage’s blog post, she said she recently learned that the PR company’s work had “crossed my desk.”

Facebook has since cut ties with Definers.

Schrage defended its attacks on Soros as a response to the liberal financier calling the company a “menace to society” during a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos last January.

“We had not heard such criticism from him before and wanted to determine if he had any financial motivation,” Schrage said Wednesday.

“Later, when the ‘Freedom From Facebook’ campaign emerged as a so-called grassroots coalition, the team asked Definers to help understand the groups behind them,” he added, referencing a group partly funded by Soros, who is often the target of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Definers “prepared documents and distributed these to the press to show that this was not simply a spontaneous grassroots movement,“ Schrage explained.

According to the Times investigation, Facebook initially hired Definers to monitor press coverage of the company. Facebook later expanded its relationship to include promoting negative coverage of Google and Apple, whom Facebook views as rivals.

Schrage accepted blame for not properly managing Facebook’s relationship with Definers, explaining that as its work with the PR firm expanded, the relationship was “less centrally managed.”

“Mark and Sheryl relied on me to manage this without controversy,” Schrage wrote, noting that he approved the decision to hire Definers “and similar firms.”

“I’m sorry I let you all down,” he added. “I regret my own failure here.”

But Schrage also partly blamed company culture.

“Our culture has long been to move fast and take risks. Many times we have moved too quickly, and we always learn and keep trying to do our best,” he said.

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Zuckerberg said he had no intention of stepping down as chairman of Facebook.

This article has been updated with comment from Elliot Schrage.

Online censorship in Saudi Arabia soared after Jamal Khashoggi’s murder

The number of websites being censored in Saudi Arabia doubled a couple of weeks after Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the country’s consulate in Istanbul, according to an initiative that tracks internet censorship. While the increased censorship is not surprising, the results show how skillful automated tracking has become at sniffing out repression.

Roya Ensafi, who leads the Censored Planet project, says it detected the sharp increase in censorship activity when it ran an automated scan on October 16. That was the day after Saudi and Turkish officials had conducted a joint inspection of the consulate, which Khashoggi entered a couple of weeks earlier to get a marriage license.

Ensafi’s team runs these scans twice a week in more than 170 countries. She says the October scan showed that foreign news services such as Fox News, the Los Angeles Times, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation were suddenly being blocked. Although the interference has since diminished for some sites, access to the Times’ website and arabnews.com, an English-language daily in Saudi Arabia, is still being restricted.

Photo of Roya Ensafi at a computer
Roya Ensafi of the Censored Planet project

Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering

Censored Planet, which was launched in August at the University of Michigan, is one of a number of initiatives that track online censorship, including the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab and the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI). Some services, like OONI, rely on thousands of volunteers living under authoritarian regimes to run code that checks for crackdowns and then upload the results to their servers.

Ensafi, who grew up in Iran, has developed a way of monitoring censorship in repressive regimes without having to rely on volunteers, who could be subject to reprisals. Censored Planet’s software searches the internet for publicly available servers at places like universities or companies providing internet access in the countries it monitors. It then instructs these machines to conduct several different scans to check if any of the approximately 2,000 websites it tracks are being blocked.

One scan looks to see if censors are blocking access to internet protocol (IP) addresses that are associated with the websites Censored Planet monitors. Another checks for manipulation of servers running the domain name system, which helps route traffic to correct destinations over the internet. Regimes can tamper with this by, for example, redirecting requests for certain websites to incorrect IP addresses. The third scan looks for keyword blocking, which involves censors monitoring network traffic for certain sensitive words and then blocking traffic containing them.

In e-mailed comments to MIT Technology Review, Arturo Filastò, a cofounder of OONI, says that its approach shows how actual users are experiencing censorship on their devices, which Censored Planet can’t do. He also says he isn’t aware of any volunteer who has gotten into trouble for running software that looks for evidence of censorship. OONI takes care to warn people of potential risks and works closely with local lawyers to keep an eye on emerging threats.

Nevertheless, Filastò welcomes Censored Planet’s approach and says it’s complementary to OONI’s because it can use remote testing to track much greater numbers of websites. As his organization’s software runs on bandwidth paid for by its volunteers, it has to limit the number of sites being tracked. Both services publish their findings openly so that other researchers can use them.

Facebook Executive Sheryl Sandberg Calls Explosive NYT Report ‘Simply Untrue’

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg weighed in on the recent explosive New York Times article that reported the social network carried out a campaign to discredit those who criticized how it handled Russian interference and disinformation.

In a lengthy Facebook post published Thursday night, the “Lean In” author wrote that the Times’ “allegations saying I personally stood in the way are also just plain wrong.”

“On a number of issues ― including spotting and understanding the Russian interference we saw in the 2016 election ― Mark [Zuckerberg] and I have said many times we were too slow,” she wrote. “But to suggest that we weren’t interested in knowing the truth, or we wanted to hide what we knew, or that we tried to prevent investigations, is simply untrue.” 

Sandberg’s post comes after the company received a wave of backlash in the aftermath of the Times investigation, published Wednesday.

Many called out the social media giant for reportedly hiring Republican opposition research firm Definers Public Affairs to undermine and discredit anti-Facebook protesters and link them to figures such as Jewish billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

“Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook’s critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation,” the Times reported, singling out the executive. “Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros. It also tapped its business relationships, lobbying a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.”

In her post, Sandberg said she didn’t know Facebook was working with Definers.

“At the time, they were trying to show that some of the activity against us that appeared to be grassroots also had major organizations behind them,” she wrote. “I did not know we hired them or about the work they were doing, but I should have. I have great respect for George Soros ― and the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories against him are abhorrent.”

Zuckerberg issued very similar comments earlier Thursday, claiming he didn’t know about Facebook’s hiring of the firm until the article was published.

“I’ve said many times before that we were too slow to spot Russian interference and we certainly stumbled along the way,” Zuckerberg said during a press conference, “but to suggest we weren’t interested in knowing the truth or wanted to hide what we knew or wanted to prevent investigations is simply untrue.”

The platform also issued a separate statement on its blog Wednesday, announcing that it had severed ties with Definers. 

“The New York Times is wrong to suggest that we ever asked Definers to pay for or write articles on Facebook’s behalf ― or to spread misinformation,” Facebook wrote. “Definers did encourage members of the press to look into the funding of ‘Freedom from Facebook,’ an anti-Facebook organization. The intention was to demonstrate that it was not simply a spontaneous grassroots campaign, as it claimed, but supported by a well-known critic of our company. To suggest that this was an anti-Semitic attack is reprehensible and untrue.”

The company wrote that, although it “still” has “a long way to go, we’re proud of the progress we have made in fighting misinformation, removing bad content and preventing foreign actors from manipulating our platform.”

Facebook Reportedly Paid For Smear Campaign Against George Soros

In an effort to muffle criticism of how it handled Russian interference and disinformation, Facebook reportedly carried out a campaign to discredit dissenters that included targeted attacks on Jewish billionaire philanthropist George Soros

New York Times investigation, published Wednesday, delves into the social media giant’s handling of the controversy and chaos following the discovery of targeted disinformation campaigns. Facebook, facing increasing backlash in Washington, hired Definers Public Affairs, a Republican opposition research firm, to discredit anti-Facebook protesters by linking them to figures like Soros, a longtime critic of the social network, the newspaper reported. 

Facebook initially worked with Definers to monitor press coverage of the company, but then expanded the relationship in October 2017, according to the report. The public relations firm then reportedly began promoting negative coverage of Facebook’s rivals, including Apple and Google. 

Definers also reportedly targeted Soros after anti-Facebook activists promoted what appeared to be anti-Semitic imagery during a congressional hearing. The firm sent a research document to reporters over the summer alleging that Soros was behind an anti-Facebook movement; his Open Society Foundations, for example, supported a group that his son founded as well as Color of Change, a group whose often partners with an anti-Facebook advocacy group called Freedom From Facebook. 

Facebook confirmed that Definers did urge some members of the media to examine the group’s funding, though fiercely rebutted any connection to anti-Semitism.  

“The intention was to demonstrate that it was not simply a spontaneous grassroots campaign, as it claimed, but supported by a well-known critic of our company,” according to a statement. “To suggest that this was an anti-Semitic attack is reprehensible and untrue.”

Tim Miller, a Definers official, expressed his disgust over his company’s actions being viewed as anti-Semitic, stating that the information sent to journalists was all based on public records.

“Im disgusted by the rise of anti-semitism including people who have falsely targeted Soros,” he tweeted Wednesday night. “It’s deeply deeply personal. I’ve continuously fought the alt-right & others who spread racist lies & hate & will keep doing so.”

A Facebook spokesperson also denied the accusations that the company played a direct role in Definers’ work, saying in a statement that “it is wrong to suggest that we have ever asked Definers to pay for or write articles on Facebook’s behalf, or communicate anything untrue.”

The company said it cut ties with Definers following the publication of the Times exposé and told HuffPost that top executives like Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg weren’t aware of Definers’ work for Facebook. 

Excoriated for not taking the fake news crisis seriously enough, Facebook continues to grapple with “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” Dozens of pages and accounts were taken down ahead of the midterm elections, though whether these efforts were sufficient remains unclear.

Amazon Announces New Headquarters In Virginia, New York City

SEATTLE ― Amazon today announced that it has selected New York City and Arlington, Virginia, as the locations for the company’s new headquarters.

Amazon will invest $5 billion and create more than 50,000 jobs across the two new headquarters locations, with more than 25,000 employees each in New York City and Arlington.

The new locations will join Seattle as the company’s three headquarters in North America. In addition, Amazon announced that it has selected Nashville for a new Center of Excellence for its Operations business, which is responsible for the company’s customer fulfillment, transportation, supply chain, and other similar activities. The Operations Center of Excellence in Nashville will create more than 5,000 jobs.

The new Washington, D.C. metro headquarters in Arlington will be located in National Landing, and the New York City headquarters will be located in the Long Island City neighborhood in Queens. Amazon’s investments in each new headquarters will spur the creation of tens of thousands of additional jobs in the surrounding communities. Hiring at both the new headquarters will begin in 2019. The Operations Center of Excellence will be located in downtown Nashville as part of a new development site just north of the Gulch, and hiring will also begin in 2019.

“We are excited to build new headquarters in New York City and Northern Virginia,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. “These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come. The team did a great job selecting these sites, and we look forward to becoming an even bigger part of these communities.”

From follower to leader: Digital transformation and the road to 5G in southern Asia-Pacific

Over the past decade, Asia-Pacific has transitioned from being the world’s factory to a leading developer of next-generation technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, big data, blockchain, cloud computing, connected devices, robotics, and virtual/augmented reality. Robotics and advanced manufacturing, well established in East Asia, are fanning out into Singapore and Malaysia as R&D clusters and government innovation strategies help firms push deeper into AI, smart manufacturing, and IoT. In emerging markets like Indonesia and the Philippines, consumer apps are booming, thanks to widening access to the internet and the success of home-grown firms.

As the 5G era dawns, the promise of massive bandwidth, lower latency, and large connected device ecosystems is prompting an R&D flurry across the region as companies explore new use cases. From smarter cities to futuristic factories, immersive entertainment, and holographic conferences to autonomous vehicles, all technology categories will be upgraded by 5G. And, as with smartphones and streaming, which emerged in the 3G to 4G shift, new use cases will surely emerge.

This report combines a survey of six countries, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand, which we will call “southern Asia- Pacific” or “the region”, with wide-ranging expert interviews, to chart the digital transformation to date and examine 5G as an opportunity to consolidate the region’s gains. The key findings of the report are as follows:

From follower to leader: Digital transformation and the road to 5G in southern Asia-Pacific
  • Southern Asia-Pacific is a front-runner in the digital era. After decades as the world’s factory and industry follower, the region is today a competitor, and sometime leader, in the fusion of digital and physical systems. AI, autonomous vehicles, robotics, IoT, and connected devices are evident throughout these countries. Our survey shows that 40 percent of companies will roll out AI in the next 12 months, with 36 percent to deploy automation. The 5G transition provides an opportunity for southern Asia-Pacific to compete for the leadership podium for the first time.
  • Homegrown companies are solving unique regional challenges. Across each of the countries, next-generation technologies are being deployed to solve unique challenges, from “care-bots” and service robots to deal with aging populations, to geoscience and environmental monitoring. Deep knowledge of local consumers and their needs helps home-grown companies excel and fight off overseas competitors.
  • Asia-Pacific is already a test-bed for 5G. From early demonstrations at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games in South Korea and Australia, to innovation hubs exploring use cases like immersive entertainment and AI-based drones, Asian countries are already tinkering with 5G. Experts expect immediate impact in manufacturing first, and later in mass IoT, smart cities, and autonomous vehicles.
  • Companies expect 5G within two to three years. The majority of companies (65 percent) across the six surveyed markets expect 5G to be launched by 2020, with 18 percent by 2021; fewer than 8 percent believe it will take as long as 2022. Some 47 percent believe 5G will boost efficiency, and 44 percent are discussing how their business will be affected. Fifty-one per cent are investing in technologies that can be deployed when 5G is launched.
  • Regulatory reform, data security and organizational stasis are obstacles to digital transformation in the 5G era. The world over, the digital economy is outgrowing regulatory frameworks in areas like monopoly, tax, privacy, and security. Clear, robust rules are needed to put digital innovation on a sound footing as 5G intensifies challenges like data privacy. Companies also need to overcome internal hurdles; lack of organizational agility and slow pace of change is voted a top obstacle by 38 percent of firms.

Google has enlisted NASA to help it prove quantum supremacy within months

Google wants NASA to help it prove quantum supremacy within a matter of months, according to a Space Act Agreement obtained by MIT Technology Review.

Quantum supremacy is the idea, so far undemonstrated, that a sufficiently powerful quantum computer will be able to complete certain mathematical calculations that classical supercomputers cannot. Proving it would be a big deal because it could kick-start a market for devices that might one day crack previously unbreakable codes, boost AI, improve weather forecasts, or model molecular interactions and financial systems in exquisite detail.

The agreement, signed in July, calls on NASA to “analyze results from quantum circuits run on Google quantum processors, and … provide comparisons with classical simulation to both support Google in validating its hardware and establish a baseline for quantum supremacy.”

Google confirmed to MIT Technology Review that the agreement covered its latest 72-qubit quantum chip, called Bristlecone. Where classical computers store information in binary bits that definitely represent either 1 or 0, quantum computers use qubits that exist in an undefined state between 1 and 0. For some problems, using qubits should quickly provide solutions that could take classical computers much longer to compute.

Physicist John Martinis, who leads Google’s quantum computing effort, thinks that Bristlecone is capable of achieving quantum supremacy. Not everyone agrees. In May, researchers with Alibaba’s Data Infrastructure and Search Technology Division published a paper suggesting that classical computers running simulations could match its performance, and that quantum chips with lower error rates might be needed.

Daniel Lidar, director of the Center for Quantum Information Science and Technology at the University of Southern California, also has doubts. “It would seem that some additional form of error suppression would be necessary,” he told MIT Technology Review. “In addition, classical simulation methods have raised the bar several times over the past couple of years, and it is quite likely this trend will continue. Nevertheless, I would not rule out a quantum supremacy demonstration using [Google’s] Bristlecone system.”

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Google’s previously unreported partnership with NASA is an explicit effort to “[demonstrate the] processor’s viability and potential.” Although Google will not pay NASA anything for the tests, the agency has put a $680,000 price tag on its own work for the project. 

The new collaboration will work like this. Because Bristlecone requires superconducting circuits maintained at a temperature close to absolute zero, it cannot be moved from Google’s labs. Instead, researchers from the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (QuAIL) at NASA’s  Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley will connect to Bristlecone online, via Google’s Cloud API service. Google will also share current software that allows classical computers to simulate quantum circuits, so that NASA can develop and improve upon it.

Together, the two organizations will work out how to map “a diverse array of optimization and sampling problems” to Bristlecone’s gate-model quantum computing system. Early next year, when they have agreed on the problems and initial targets for simulation, NASA will code the software necessary to run those simulations on its petaflop-scale Pleiades supercomputer, also located at Ames. Pleiades is NASA’s most powerful supercomputer, currently ranked in the top 25 worldwide.

Around July of next year, 12 months from the contract’s signing, NASA will “compare results from classical simulation of quantum circuits to results from Google hardware.” 

If things do not go as planned, Google’s agreement has a five-year term within which “NASA will provide further mappings, improved circuit simulation techniques, more efficient compilations [and] results from circuit simulations.” Google will give QuAIL access to its quantum processor and software until at least 2023.

NASA could not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This is not Google’s first foray into quantum computing with NASA. In 2013, they worked together to install at Ames a quantum annealer made by the quantum computing company D-Wave. That machine was subsequently upgraded in 2017. 

Ultimately, Google wants its quantum computing software for simulation, optimization, and machine learning to be shared more widely. “It is Google’s intent that it will release its Software Development Kit (SDK) for using the quantum processors in an open source manner,” the agreement states.

This is likely referring to Cirq, open-source software for creating quantum circuits that Google announced this summer. Google said then that it planned to make Bristlecone available in the cloud, with Cirq as its interface. D-Wave, IBM, and Rigetti already have quantum cloud services available to researchers.

Gab, Social Network Favored By The Far Right, Goes Back Online

Gab, a social network popular among alt-right activists and white nationalists, went back online Sunday after having gone dark following the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, which killed 11 people.

The platform, a self-labeled champion of free speech, was dropped by domain provider GoDaddy.com last week. It announced its return Sunday evening with a new domain registrar, Epik.com.

“You failed. We are back online. We grow stronger by the hour. Free speech lives at Gab.com,” the company tweeted. “This is only the beginning. May God have mercy on you for what you people have done this past week.”

A flurry of anti-Semitic messages appeared within minutes of the site being back online.  

White supremacist Christopher Cantwell was one of the first to post. “Hey Jews! We’re back on Gab now,” he wrote. “Thanks for the press. Pretty soon the average citizen is going to figure out that we wouldn’t be having these problems in your absence, and we genuinely appreciate your help in stepping up the timeline on that.”

Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers was found to have used the site as a forum to channel his anti-Semitism, labelling Jews an “infestation” and “the children of Satan.”

Epik CEO Rob Monster told The Seattle Times that he has faith in Gab’s ability to curate content.

“I do believe the guys that are on the site are vigilant,” Monster said.

Gab’s CEO Andrew Torba maintains that the site has a “zero tolerance policy” for violence and terrorism. Yet Torba has a history of either ignoring racist commentary on his platform or actively encouraging it, not to mention penning his own anti-Semitic rants.

Where Kids Find Hate Online — And Tips For How To Handle It

By Caroline Knorr, Common Sense Media

Hate speech is all over the internet. Fueled by trolls, extremists, false information, and a group mentality, this kind of cruelty against a religion, ethnicity, sexual identity, gender, race ― or anything, really ― has reached a fever pitch. And while some kids will be attacked, and some may be swept up in the powerful rhetoric, the vast majority of kids will be victims of everyday, casual exposure. Just by playing a game on the internet, looking up a definition, or maybe checking out some music, they’ll encounter some of the most vile and offensive words and images that can be expressed in the comments section of a YouTube video, a meme in their feed, or a group chat. The intensity of these ideas, the frequency with which kids see them, and the acceptance by so many that it’s just part of internet life mean that it’s critical to talk to kids about this difficult topic. They’ll be much better equipped to handle whatever comes their way when they can talk to you about all aspects of hate speech: what it is and why it’s hurtful, what to do when they encounter it, and even what to do if they’re drawn to it.

Hate speech is actually legal under the First Amendment ― unless it specifically targets someone, includes threats and harassment, or creates a hostile environment (such as at school or work). But the line between what’s OK and what’s absolutely unacceptable is still very much up for debate in the digital age. And when you think about it, today’s kids are guinea pigs for the giant social experiment of free and open public speech. On one side are mainstream sites like Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube trying to walk the tightrope between freedom of expression and decorum. Their unsuccessful attempts to tamp down the hateful rhetoric on their platforms send a mixed message to kids. Are tech companies really that dedicated to free speech, or do they just want more users? On the other side are fringe sites like Gab and 4Chan whose no-holds-barred forums test the boundaries of free speech ― which the companies defend as fiercely as their offensive views. But when kids see the horrific race-, religion-, and gender-based attacks committed in the real world by members of online extremist groups, they must wonder why adults can’t stop these hate crimes.

Let’s be clear: The internet didn’t create hate speech. Although it may change some people’s minds, the internet (and specifically social media) simply provides a place for people to express themselves. But the idea that exposure to hateful ideas is a necessary evil for the right to say whatever you wish doesn’t account for the role of the internet itself. The online world is rife with false information, which is easily created, easily distributed, and easily believed by those who want their own hateful ideas confirmed. And remember, tech companies profit off connecting and engaging people ― and nothing gets people going like inflammatory ideas.

Somewhere in this mix are your kids, who are stumbling into online spaces that are confusing, scary, and shaky. We can’t ― and shouldn’t ― rely on the tech companies to figure it out. We don’t have that much time. And plus, they have too much skin in the game. Ultimately, hate speech is an area where sharing your own family’s values ― around compassion and tolerance, appropriate communication, and empathy toward other ― sets a stable path forward for your kids to follow even in unsettled times. Here are some ideas for you to discuss with your kids and tips to handle hate speech.

Conversation starters

What is hate speech? Look up the definition of hate speech and talk about whether your kids have encountered it. It may have been just a word, or it may have been in a video or a meme. How can you tell if someone is trying to be funny or their words are intended to hurt?

How does hate speech affect people? How would you feel if you were a member of the group targeted by cruel language? Does it matter if you’re exposed to it a lot or a little? Are people with different social statuses ― for example, a popular kid vs. a loner type ― affected differently?

What’s the difference between hate speech and cyberbullying? If someone is trying to hurt someone, or knows that they’re hurting someone, and does it repeatedly, that’s cyberbullying. When someone expresses vicious views about a group or toward an attribute of a group, that’s hate speech.

What’s your role in online hate speech? Do you feel safe calling out the person or people using hate speech? Would it make you feel cooler to do that, or would it make you feel uncool ― like you’re not part of the group? Would you block people using hate speech? Would you ignore them? Would you stand up for the person or group of people being targeted?

How far does the right to free speech go? Is there a clear boundary between free speech and hate speech? What is it? Should people have the right to say and do whatever they want online? If people’s feelings are hurt or they’re offended, they can just go on a different site, right?

Does hate speech lead to hate crimes? Convicted killer Dylan Roof, accused murderer Robert Bowers, and others accused of hate crimes left clues to their murderous views online. Should there be a place for people with extremist leanings to gather and share their ideas online, even if they’re offensive and threatening? Or not?

What responsibility ― if any ― do technology platforms have? Should Instagram, for example, be held accountable to victims of hate crimes committed by users who posted hate content? Should they try to bring people together, either through dedicated spaces, new algorithms, or other methods?

Why are certain people attracted to hate groups? It’s natural for tweens and teens to want to join groups, and sometimes groups devoted to hurting others make certain kids feel more powerful. Kids who have pent-up anger or insecurity about other things in their lives may be attracted to groups that feel protective and united. Can you imagine why someone might be swayed by hate speech rhetoric?

Practical ways to manage hate speech

  • Report it. Hate speech violates most sites’ terms of service. You can report people without their knowing that you’re the one who turned them in.

  • Block it. You can block people who use hate speech, but this can be tricky socially for some kids.

  • Don’t share it. Forwarding any form of hate speech is wrong ― but it can also get you into trouble because it can be traced back to you.

  • Call it out. If your kids feel confident enough to confront the hate speech poster without fear of attack, then they should do it.

  • Fight it. Nurture the values of empathy and compassion in your kids. Challenge them to consider how other people feel and how they would want to be treated.

  • Read age-appropriate news from reputable sources. Try these best news sources for kids.

  • Learn more. Hate often stems from ignorance. Media designed for your kids’ ages can help them learn about history and people’s struggles in terms that they can understand and relate to. Try our lists Books About the Holocaust, Books About Racism and Social Justice, and Books That Promote Tolerance and Diversity.

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