In November 2017, Facebook chose Stand Up! as an organisation working in the field of hate speech, to create a free advertising drive as part of the ‘Create vs Hate’ campaign. The project was chosen alongside two other organisations, the Jo Cox Foundation and the CST. Facebook ran a competition for advertising schools to pitch their ideas for each organisation; the winning pitch for the project was then developed into the final campaign by the Facebook Creative Shop Team, who worked closely with Stand Up!
The concept for the campaign consisted of animated videos on the theme of the ‘Woah Moments’. The videos show an animated character, speaking about the moment of realisation they had about an assumption experienced or observed which was based on stereotypes and conscious or subconscious discrimination. The characters were of different backgrounds, religions and nationality's, and the ‘Woah moments’ focused on issues relating to minority communities.
The campaign ran in February and March 2018, reaching over 1.5 million Facebook and Instagram users. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with many people liking and sharing the adverts. Additionally, a small number of people emailed Stand Up! directly to volunteer, donate and to get involved in the project.
However, some negative comments (+/- 150 in total) and online abuse was also directed to Stand Up! This included a number of negative comments criticising the aims of the campaign, stating that the programme should serve the “White, British majority” instead of minority groups. The project was repeatedly accused of adopting left wing political values, with some users commenting that Stand Up! were “just liberal snowflakes”. (See screenshots below for negative comments.)
These negative and abusive comments only emphasise how crucial the work of Stand Up! really is; they represent some views held within society at large, which this programme is directly trying to combat. By educating young people and breaking down stereotypes and discrimination - whilst also focusing specifically on Antisemitism and anti-Muslim hate - Stand Up! promotes British Values and creates more harmonious communities. The workshops emphasise mutual respect and tolerance of all people, including those with different faiths and beliefs. Post-Brexit and Trump-like sentiment can be seen in many of the comments, with ‘White British’ users feeling marginalised and ignored in place of people they perceive as ‘other’. This 'us and them,' rhetoric is that of anti-immigration, anti-refugee and anti-Muslim sentiment seen in some of the media and public discourse since the Brexit vote.
To a certain extent the campaign seemed to be widely misunderstood by the target audience. Both Stand Up! and Facebook did not intend to depict direct examples of discrimination, but rather a more nuanced, personal realisation which was meant to make people think and hopefully act in more sensitive ways; this nuance was often not understood by the audience. Some assumed that the Government were paying for the adverts and wasting taxpayers’ money. They did not realise that the adverts were created by Facebook to generate interest in the workshops which are pragmatic sessions giving young people tools on how to deal with real life incidents, and focus on the importance of becoming ‘Upstanders’ and reporting Hate Crime to the relevant authorities.
In summary the campaigns’ aim to generate nationwide interest in Stand Up! was definitely met and the importance of delivering this anti-discrimination programme was highlighted through the negative comments and feedback it received.