The “Think Good” campaign to change online discourse, initiated by President Isaac Herzog and Meta (formerly Facebook) in Israel, went online on Tuesday morning.

As part of the initiative, dozens of celebrities and public figures in Israel will share video clips of themselves reading the most hurtful responses that they have received online, with the offensive words censored and overlaid with words of positive reinforcement. 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.”

This one-of-a-kind campaign will reveal the most vulgar and hurtful replies received by public figures, who will publicly reveal to their millions of followers the tremendous power of words—words that can still hurt content creators with hundreds of thousands of followers, as well as ministers and members of Knesset confronting daily criticism. 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. Some of the participants will specifically address young audiences, as part of the "Think Good" campaign's collaboration with youth website Frogi, in which young stars will share with other youth tips to stay safe online.

The campaign was born out of a commitment to stop cyberbullying and hurtful discourse on social media, and in light of the President’s inaugural address, in which he said, “When we all feel threatened, when we all double down on our own positions and opinions, certain that justice is on our side alone, alienation deepens with every passing day. Alienation between individuals and between groups, which may, God forbid, degenerate into alienation between citizens and their country.”

“The first step toward unity is to put an end to fear. It is too common, too explosive, and it is fueled mainly by words. Words whose power we all, at times, tend to underestimate. It is a mistake to think that words lose their power at the end of a speech, a post, or a curse. Words carry incredible power. The power to create new realities and to transform them; the power to destroy, but also to rebuild. The power to lay waste to an entire universe of values. And then, as the poet Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Gabirol, a spiritual giant of Sephardic Jewry, wrote: ‘He who sows hatred, will reap remorse.’ The hour therefore calls on all leaders to act with responsibility, to serve as voices of moderation and calm, and to choose their words with care. It demands that we protect freedom of speech—and resist giving license to hate speech.”

The full list of participants in the “Think Good” campaign: Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (513k followers on Facebook, 126k on Instagram); Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (505k on Facebook, 121k on Instagram; Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (227k on Facebook, 62,000k on Instagram); Maor Buzaglo (387k); Anna Zak (1.4m); Miri Regev MK (345k); Moshe Arbel; Miki Zohar (44k); judoka Peter Paltchik (56k); Judy Mozes (29.5k); Eviatar Ozeri (506k); Liel Eli (476k); Reef Neeman (391k); Omer Hazan (363k); Shira Levy (172k); Gal Zahavi (146k); Yana Levi (62k); Bell Agam (59k); Or Elkayam (57k); Aki Avni (44.5k); Raz Shechnik (29k); Dylan Dror (26k); Liky Rosenberg (98k); Mohammad Magadli (24k); Nadav Abukasis (10k); Amit Bachover (221k); Ehud Porat, manager of the Pishpeshuk group with 503k members; Karin Alia (249k); Keren Alaluf Sharabi, manager of the Mamatzhik group with 325k members; journalist Inon Ben Shushan (16k); Saar Ben Harush, founder and manager of the Abba Pagum community with 130k members; and Israel Cohen (40k).

President Herzog said, “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. I am glad to lead this very important project, ‘Think Good,’ which is raising public awareness about the power of words online and encourages a more inclusive discourse on social media, and in particular encourages us to stop and think before hitting ‘enter.’ 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. We must start thinking good and writing good.”

Adi Soffer-Teeni, Country Director, Meta in Israel, 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.”

President Isaac Herzog and the 'Think Good' campaign. President's Residence
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