Skip to the main content

Susan Benesch founded the Dangerous Speech Project, to find ways of diminishing inflammatory speech – and its capacity to inspire violence - while protecting freedom of expression. She has developed a framework to estimate the dangerousness of speech in context, and has tested ways to help audiences to resist dangerous speech, especially in Kenya. While at Berkman, she will carry out a new project to test the effectiveness of anti-hatred efforts online. Using the results, she hopes to design new, more effective methods to diminish online hatred and inflammatory speech. Her relevant work is described at

Susan teaches international human rights at American University's School of International Service. She also currently serves as the Everett Fellow in Genocide Prevention at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. In the past she has worked at the Center for Justice and Accountability, Amnesty International, Human Rights First, and at the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Before studying law at Yale, Susan was chief staff writer for the Miami Herald in Haiti, and Latin America correspondent for the St. Petersburg Times. She covered wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, invasions in Panama and Haiti, and also wrote for a variety of magazines and websites.

Her recent publications related to her Berkman work include: Song as a Crime Against Humanity, in Trials and Tribulations (2013); Words as Weapons, World Policy Journal (Spring 2012), The Ghost of Causation in International Speech Crime Cases, in Propaganda, War Crimes Trials & International Law: From Speakers’ Corner to War Crimes (2011); The ICTR’s Prosecution of a Pop Star: The Bikindi Case, African Yearbook of International Law (2009); Vile Crime or Inalienable Right: A Model to Distinguish Hate Speech from Incitement to Genocide, 48 Virginia Journal of International Law 485 (2008).

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,… More


Monday, 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. More


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… More