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Susan Benesch founded and directs the Dangerous Speech Project, to study rhetoric 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 regularly foists related ideas on tech companies, to improve both content moderation and user behavior. Trained as a human rights lawyer at Yale, Susan has worked for NGOs including Amnesty International and Human Rights First. She is an adjunct professor at American University's School of International Serivce and hosts monthly dinner concerts at her home in DC.

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


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


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… More