Facebook is encouraging users to counter hate speech online, with the UK launch of its (OCCI) in the UK. The social network says it wants to promote “the civil courage displayed by organisations and grassroots activists”, in order to tackle online extremism. 

in the wake of the London Bridge terror attack, and were accused of providing terrorists with “safe spaces” online.

, but has since tried to step them up.

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Last week, it revealed that , in order to keep content related to terrorism off the site.

It has now partnered with the Jo Cox Foundation, Community Security Trust, Tell MAMA, Imams Online and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

“No one should have to live in fear of terrorism – and we all have a part to play in stopping violent extremism from spreading,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook´s Chief Operating Officer.

“Partnerships with others – including tech companies, civil society, researchers and governments – are also a crucial piece of the puzzle. Some of our most important partnerships are focused on counterspeech, which means encouraging people to speak out against violence and extremism. 

“The UK Online Civil Courage Initiative will support [non-governmental organisations (NGOs)] and community groups who work across the UK to challenge the extremist narratives that cause such harm. We know we have more to do – but through our platform, our partners and our community we will continue to learn to keep violence and extremism off Facebook.”

The OCCI will provide financial support to NGOs working to counter online extremism and bring together experts to develop tools and guidance for people to engage in counter speech, Facebook says. 

“This is a valuable and much needed initiative from Facebook in helping to tackle extremism,” said . “Anything that helps push the extremists even further to the margins is greatly welcome. Social media platforms have a particular responsibility to address hate speech that has too often been allowed to flourish online.

“It is critical that efforts are taken by all online service providers and social networks to bring our communities closer together and to further crack down on those that spread violence and hatred online.” 

The OCCI launched in Germany last year and in France in March.

“In the UK, the OCCI community of local organisations and activists will share campaigns, experiences, advice and challenges online using Facebook Groups, enabling them to meet and collaborate with like-minded and similarly inspirational people all across the country,” said the company.

It’s also encouraging users to engage with the hashtag . 

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