ONG Ecos do Sur

CibeRespect is an outreach and human rights protection project focused on the intersection between migration and new technologies, especially Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality.


What is the project about?

1. Collective creation of VR experiences for narrative transformation on migration.
2. Chatbot that helps to act in cases of discrimination and hate crimes.

CibeRespect is a project for the dissemination and protection of human rights focused on the intersection between migration and new technologies, especially Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality, which is based on the premise that digital technology can also be an opportunity to expand human rights and advance in the fight against racism and xenophobia. This project exploits the benefits of information technologies (virality, accessibility, availability...) to tackle hate speech, discrimination and hate crimes against migrants, racialised people and defenders of rights, promoting sovereignty and appropriation of digital and social rights by citizens and opening new conversations about the democratising possibilities of new technologies, especially Artificial Intelligence, instant messaging and Virtual Reality, generating open and shared knowledge.

This is deployed through a set of complementary activities, including: 

-Instant messaging training for self-defence against cyberhate, online disinformation and algorithmic bias.  

-Development and launch of the Protect and Defend Yourself ChatBot: your helper against hate and discrimination.

For migrant and racialised people and other vulnerable groups, experiences of discrimination and hate speech are everyday, can occur at any time and in any environment, and often nerves and emotions prevent them from having a clear vision to react in the most positive way in real time. A chatbot is a virtual assistant that communicates with users via text messages. It takes the form of a virtual companion that integrates into websites, applications... conversing and helping users. The system is programmed to interact with people and solve their doubts, without a physical person answering.

They have the advantage that they are always available to solve the doubts of users who want to contact them at any time of the day and from anywhere. For this reason, we propose the creation of the first chatbot assistant in cases of hate and discrimination, programmed to provide in a simple way the key and practical information to act correctly when you are a victim or witness of this type of cases. For example, if at 2 a.m. a girl is refused entry to a discotheque because she is black, she can use the chatbot to guide her through all the steps to claim and defend her rights in accordance with the legislation in force at that very moment.



It is an initiative that uses AI and machine learning for the common good, and that we developed in collaboration with the NNTT Data Chair of the Faculty of Computer Science of the University of A Coruña (TFG Solidario). The chatbot will be released to society for free use, replication and adaptation, with open source code. 

- Wikipedia editathon: collective creation of articles on migrant references.

- CyberNarrators: experience of story construction, storytelling and systemic virtual reality for awareness-raising and social change.Accompaniment of a group of people representing migrant diversity (regular/irregular status, refugees, minors or ex-minors, racialised, second generations, religious diversity...) in a process of conquering their discursive protagonism against hate and key awareness-raising agents. For this, we open a training/action process through creative formats (hackathon of ideas, virtual reality). Participants are activated as storytellers, narrators, and will have a leading role in the communication of their own experience. These contents are articulated around a workshop on the creation of virtual reality experiences: during 7 face-to-face sessions conducted by the organisation Be Another Lab, with the support of Ecos do Sur, the participants will be the protagonists of the whole process of creation and execution of a virtual reality audiovisual piece aimed at raising awareness among the persuasive centre's audiences on issues of repudiation of violence against women and recognition of migrant experiences and diversities. 

The first-person experiential approach, coupled with the pioneering use of new technologies, enables individual change in both the creators and those who will subsequently participate in the virtual reality activity. It works as a platform for the creation of immersive experiences in which one person can step into the shoes of another: The Machine to Be Another, operated with the Library of Ourselves App. It is a creative commons system created by Be Another Lab, using technological and scientific knowledge to promote human integration. 

-Immersive Virtual Reality Experience for Human RightsPeople who have not lived experiences of discrimination, especially those who are on the axis of privilege according to the theory of intersectionality, and who are also usually in decision-making positions (company managers, contractors, people in positions of responsibility, people with rental property, etc.), often find it difficult to understand the experiences of hate and discrimination that impact on the lives and bodies of migrants, and this makes them minimise their impact or discriminate without realising it. It is not easy to self-manage one's own prejudices.

Ecos do Sur experiments with the Embodied Virtual Reality system, created by the Be Another Lab collective, an immersive virtual reality system that encourages knowledge of the other and overcoming prejudices through Virtual Reality videos, created by migrants who are users of this organisation. Combining virtual reality, cognitive science and performance, the system offers participants the possibility of seeing themselves in a different body, interacting with space with realistic tactile feedback that encourages empathy, mutual knowledge and the emotional overcoming of prejudices. 

What is the purpose of the project?

CibeRespect is a project that has been looking for new ways to tackle hate speech and misinformation online since 2016. In recent years, it has dedicated new efforts to replace discriminatory narratives with other explanations that value the diversity of our neighbourhoods. In this task, Ecos do Sur uses technology to bring people together, humanise relational environments and viralise empathy. 

Its general objective is to prevent and contain the emergence of hate incidents in an adverse social and economic context such as the social and economic gap following the COVID-19 pandemic, the emergence of authoritarian populisms and in its interrelation with the advances of digital technologies.

Specific objectives include:To promote self-defence action and social unity in the face of online hate speech as a way of preventing violence and improving the exercise of human and digital rights, bringing technological tools and opportunities for participation closer together.

To encourage support and solidarity from the general public towards groups targeted by hate speech and incidents and expressions of intolerance and hatred online, attracting them to positions of respect, citizenship, and valuing diversity based on shared values that favour the social inclusion of migrant groups. 


What does it contribute to the Maker Community?

The project is created by and for the community in general, and the maker community in particular. It helps to understand how the tools we use every day in the digital environment serve as powerful tools for social transformation and rethinks our role as active individuals of change in the social sphere.

Who has realised the project?

Ecos do Sur in collaboration with Be Another Lab (VR) and the Faculty of Computer Science of the UdC for the Chatbot (Solidarity TFG Programme, with Professor Laura Castro Souto and student Cristian González Trillo).

Migrants participate voluntarily in the creation of VR narratives and in the testing of the chatbot.

The project is funded by the Department of Social Policy of the Xunta de Galicia and the Pluralism and Coexistence Foundation.



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