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Susan Benesch founded and directs the Dangerous Speech Project, to study speech that can inspire violence - and to find ways to prevent this, without infringing on freedom of expression.

To that end, she conducts research on methods to diminish harmful speech online, or the harm itself. She also serves tech companies as an unpaid, external source of ideas and critique, and speaks and publishes on governance of online content, hate speech, and disinformation. Trained as a human rights lawyer at Yale, Susan is also an adjunct professor at American University.

Projects & Tools

Youth-Oriented Online Hate Speech / Viral Peace

Leveraging its national and global networks, the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is forming a first-of-its-kind thematic network of experts,…


Aug 14, 2017

Perspectives on Harmful Speech Online

This collection of short essays and opinion pieces on harmful speech online covers a broad spectrum of thought and ideas from the Berkman Klein community.


Tech Policy Press

Can AI Rescue Democracy? Nope, It’s Not Funny Enough

Susan Benesch writes about how online debate should not be outsourced to AI

Mar 11, 2024
LA Times

Opinion: Many Americans believe migrants bring fentanyl across the border. That’s wrong and dangerous

Susan Benesch and Catherine Buerger use the context of fentanyl and border crossings to explain the dangers of combining facts, lies, and emotional language.

Feb 19, 2024
Faith & Leadership

How to identify and counter dangerous speech

BKC Faculty Associate Susan Benesch provides recommendations for recognizing and countering hateful online speech.

Dec 12, 2023
The Harvard Gazette

Should we be worried about rising heat of political discourse? Yes.

BKC Faculty Associate Susan Benesch discusses the relationship with heated political speech and real-world violence.

Oct 30, 2023
Just Security

Incendiary Speech That Spurs Violence is Rising in US, But Tools Exist to Shrink It

Faculty Associate Susan Benesch writes about incendiary speech in political American discourse, and the rampant rise of it. "We have found that…

Nov 21, 2022
The Washington Post

GOP reacts to Trump search with threats and comparisons to ‘Gestapo’

Susan Benesch, faculty associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, said when it comes to …

Aug 9, 2022

Why Elon Musk’s Twitter might be (more) lethal

Susan Benesch writes about how Elon Musk buying Twitter may be dangerous. …

May 5, 2022

Bring Social Media Enforcement into the Light

BKC Faculty Associate Susan Benesch writes about Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and implications for content moderation and social media enforcement.

May 5, 2022

Trump in the Rearview Mirror: How to Better Regulate Violence-Inciting Content Online

Susan Benesch says human rights law could guide social media companies to regulate hateful speech

Apr 27, 2021
Philadelphia Inquirer

The deadly consequences of Trump’s gradual and insidious rhetoric

Susan Benesch pens an op-ed about the dangers of Trump’s rhetoric.

Jan 13, 2021
The Guardian

'Too big to fail': why even a historic ad boycott won’t change Facebook

Susan Benesch talks to The Guardian

Jul 11, 2020
Dangerous Speech Project

Proposals for Improved Regulation of Harmful Online Content

Report features seven recommendations for Internet companies

Jun 26, 2020
Dangerous Speech Project

As Twitter Takes on Trump, It Must Explain Itself

Susan Benesch argues that when it comes to Trump's tweets, Twitter must explain clearly how or why a tweet violated its policy.

May 29, 2020

'Dangerous speech' fuelled by fear in crises can be countered with education

Fear is the biggest motivator in spreading 'dangerous speech' in times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, says BKC’s Susan Benesch

May 15, 2020
Open Democracy

We can’t let tech companies use algorithms to police us after COVID-19

The pandemic has demonstrated the risks of relying on algorithms to remove harmful content.

Apr 24, 2020
The Guardian

'Coughing while Asian': living in fear as racism feeds off coronavirus panic

Racist incidents are increasing while Trump promotes racism by calling coronavirus ‘the Chinese virus’

Mar 24, 2020
On The Media, WYNC

Sticks and Stones

Susan Benesch discusses our complicated legal right to speak.

Oct 11, 2019
The Globe and Mail

Donald Trump plays a dangerous game with rhetoric of ‘treason’ and ‘civil war’

Susan Benesch says it isn’t normal for American presidents to suggest that their political opponents be arrested for treason

Oct 3, 2019
The New York Times

Host Violent Content? In Australia, You Could Go to Jail

Australia has held itself up as a model for cracking down on violent extremist material online since the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand. But the limits to its approach have…

Sep 11, 2019
Scientific American

Researchers Model Online Hate Networks In Effort to Battle Them

Susan Benesch provides an external review of the study

Aug 21, 2019

Combating Hate Speech Through Counterspeech

What we can learn from cataloging extremely toxic speech on social media platforms and engaging with practitioners of “counterspeech”

Aug 9, 2019

Most Americans believe politicians’ heated rhetoric can lead to violence, report finds

78% of Americans say aggressive language from elected officials makes violence against targeted groups more likely. Susan Benesch shares insight for decreasing dangerous speech

Jun 19, 2019
The New York Times

Australia Passes Law to Punish Social Media Companies for Violent Posts

Australia asks social media platforms to take responsibility

Apr 3, 2019
Washington Post

An expert on ‘dangerous speech’ explains how Trump’s rhetoric and the recent spate of violence are and aren’t linked

On “dangerous speech” in the context of Donald Trump’s rhetoric

Oct 29, 2018


Mar 25, 2014 @ 12:30 PM

Troll Wrastling for Beginners: Data-Driven Methods to Decrease Hatred Online

Susan Benesch, Berkman Center Faculty Associate

People hating others isn't new - what's new is that the rest of us are often privy to it, when it's expressed online. This is painful but it's also an opportunity to learn how to…