International Conference on Digital Discrimination and Social Networks Online

Recently, I had a chance to attend and participate at the ICUD International Conference: Digital Discrimination and Social Networks that took place takes on March 13 and 14, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. The ICUD Project aims to Creatively Unveil hidden forms of Discrimination on the Internet, especially on social network sites such as Facebook, and provide practical tools to combat discrimination online. This project is lead by www.asceps.org, and is co-funded by the European Union’s DG Justice: Fundamental Right and Citizenship programme.

It was a wonderful opportunity and space for interaction, discussion, learning and exchange of ideas and experiences: for social workers, academics, researchers, educators, Internet experts, NGOs, activists, young people and anyone interested in the issues surrounding discrimination on the Internet, especially in regards to social networking sites.

Complex topics like teen usage of Internet tools and social networks, racial discrimination, digital divides, network strategy against discrimination, hate speech, online gaming communities, LGBT issues, presence and representations of women online, youth and identity were discussed during the two-day conference.

Each session, talk, workshop and panel contributed to the ICUD conference and discussion, I’m selecting here few of them, for other details please see the references.

Game Over Hate: Building Better Online Gaming Communities

A project and an initiative Game Over Hate (Germany/Portugal) that was presented during the first day of the conference – had the goal to tackle hate in online gaming environments and to foster inclusive gaming communities.

Participants had a chance to discuss the most profitable branch of the entertainment industry (video games), the massive online communities that exist around it and how everything comes together in a world of hate speech, trolling and rape culture.

In this workshop there was a discussion about the role of the internet as both entertainment and as an alternative to offline socialisation by looking at the impact, size and scope of the new online gaming communities. Through interaction, some stereotypes about games were unmasked.  There was an interesting discussion on how players interact online, what types of games they play and what happens when so many people cooperate and compete online.

In an effort to understand this, workshop leaders look into cases from different communities, such as Anita Sarkeesian (FeministFrequency), Phil Fish (FEZ), Carolyn Petit (GameSpot), Zoe Quinn (Depression Quest), and “Fat, Ugly or Slutty