Counter Speech Taxonomy

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Counterspeech can be many things, including:

  • exposing hate, deceit, abuse, stereotypes
  • promoting counternarratives and clarifying facts
  • advancing counter values
  • uniting communities
  • sharing experiences

Directed at whom?

  • Speaker
  • Target
  • Community
  • Public


  • Change norms
  • raise awareness
  • support target
  • educate
  • mock
  • challenge
  • understand
  • connect

Who’s doing it?

  • target
  • bystanders who know target
  • bystanders who know speaker
  • unknown bystanders
  • organizations
  • government
  • media
  • *gender/race/orientation/status matters

how are they doing it?

  • humor/parody
  • documentation
  • “fact” checking
  • call for harassment or consequences
  • questioning, socratic method
  • sharing personal experiences
  • “killing w kindness”
  • “fuck you”
  • harass/abuse back

What are the effects (intended and unintended)?

How do we define and measure success?

Example Directed at... Aim
Dickwolves (Penny Arcade) speakers challenge
#YesAllWomen public raise awareness
#direnkahkaha #resistlaughter speaker (political figure in Turkey) mock challenge protest
wikistorming and edit-a-thons public/community change norms/educate
#weturnourbacks #sirtimizidonuyoruz Turkey Speaker (president of Turkey) Challenge & protest
#metomé una foto de snuda y qué, #I took a naked picture so what

after Ibero university students found out about a DB of naked photos of students

Men sharing photos but especially female students - started in female bathrooms first change norms; support “victims”
#KillAllMuslims after Charlie Hebdo massacre community/public change norms
State Dept. (US) tweeting at potential terrorists community/public/speaker education/change norms
video song response to ACLU students’ anti-asian rant speaker/public mock
Ijeoma Oluo engaging racist troll on MLK Jr. Day speaker educate/connect/understand
Everday sexism in the UK community/public change norms
“Let Love Happen” photograph public change norms