Israeli President Isaac Herzog launched a campaign this week, in collaboration with Meta (Facebook), which was “born out of a commitment to stop cyberbullying and hurtful discourse on social media,” an announcement from the Office of the President said.
As part of the initiative, the campaign, dubbed “Think Good,” dozens of celebrities, government officials, and public figures in Israel will share video clips of themselves reading the most hurtful responses they have received online, with the offensive words censored and overlaid with positive language.
The purpose of the initiative is to expose to millions of followers the difficulty of reading nasty replies, to encourage people to think twice before using hurtful language, and to think positive thoughts before hitting “reply,” Herzog’s office said.
The campaign “seeks to raise public awareness about the consequences of online bullying and to encourage a more conciliatory and inclusive discourse on social media instead of hurtful rhetoric,” it added.
Some of the participants will specifically address young audiences, as part of the campaign’s collaboration with youth website Frogi, where young stars will share tips to help young people stay safe online.
Public figures participating in the campaign include Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, MK Miri Regev, professional soccer player Maor Buzaglo, singer Anna Zak, judoka Peter Paltchik, actress Reef Neeman, and journalists Raz Schechnik and Mohammad Magadli.
“I am disturbed by discourse on social media. People have become too ‘keyboard-happy,’ and red lines are constantly being crossed on social networks. I have set myself the central mission of moderating the hurtful discourse and bullying online, which harm us as individuals and as a society on a daily basis,” Herzog said. “It is important for us
to expose millions of followers to the pain of reading nasty replies, through the experiences of public officials and influencers in a range of fields. We must do everything in our power, together, in order to transform our discourse online, and in the nation more generally.”
Adi Soffer-Teeni, country director in Israel for Meta/Facebook, said, “I am excited to collaborate with the President of Israel and dozens of local opinion leaders as part of the ‘Think Good’ campaign, which will put a spotlight on the most difficult moments on social networks in order to spark a discussion and make a clear statement against a phenomenon that has no place on our platforms. I thank everyone who agreed to bravely reveal the ugliest words that people have written to them, in order to lead such an important initiative against bullying, harmful content, and violent language online. We have an uncompromising commitment to provide a safe and positive experience for the billions of people using our platforms.”