Led by Professor Katrin Androschin, five students from Berlin’s Design Akademie walked away with the grand prize of $10,000 at 2018’s Peer-to-Peer Facebook Global Digital Challenge. The team of graduate students sent to Washington represented four nationalities, multiple languages, and a diversity of skillsets ranging from video production to social media content creation. Their challenge? To design a campaign pushing back on hate speech and violent extremism.
Creating the Next Generation of Advocates
The Peer-to-Peer Facebook Global Digital Challenge kicked off in spring 2015 as a White House National Security Council initiative; the idea being to challenge extremism with messages created by those typically targeted by extremists. Teams worldwide are provided with a $1,000 USD program budget and $750 in Facebook ad credits to design, activate, and evaluate campaigns which empower students to become involved, inspire other students to create their own initiatives, or build a community of young people living shared values.
Since the program was started, over 600 P2P programs have been implemented in 40 U.S. states and 75 countries. The combined campaigns have generated over $200 million combined online and offline impressions.
The Final Four Compete in Washington
On January 30, 2018 the final four teams from Brazil, Germany, Lebanon, and Bangladesh presented their campaigns to an expert panel in Washington. The competition was stiff and involved a combination of language skills, showmanship, and flexibility. Brazil, Lebanon, and Bangladesh presented campaigns which focused on combating language related to sexual assault, empowering minority Groups, and connecting religious scholars to those expressing intolerance online.
The German team from Design Akademie in Berlin made a powerful statement by entering their presentation with their mouth’s taped shut which they each individually took off to visually represent their project’s focus, namely speaking out. Their campaign, Don’t Be Silent Berlin, targets the young “silent majority” in Germany’s capital who don’t take any action against hate speech. Through the creation of visually engaging social media content, daily counter speech tips, and insightful memes their campaign goal was to involve and empower the masses to speak out and not to rely on others to do so. The team generated tremendous campaign awareness by reaching over 175 million people. Their campaign, which only started materializing months beforehand, secured press coverage with media houses Berliner Zeitung and international news broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
After all the teams had presented and the panel completed their deliberations, the German team was announced the winner of the four finalists which comes with a $10,000 prize to continue their campaign efforts.
The Future of Don’t Be Silent
Having based the original idea off of a budget of less than $2,000, the team now has a huge opportunity to expand their reach and create new content. As they fly back to Berlin to greet the rest of their teammates and school, they are optimistic about the work ahead of them and ask only that Washington, too, does not remain silent.