Detect Then Act (DTCT)

“Taking Direct Action against Online Hate Speech by Turning Bystanders into Upstanders”

Featured Project.

Build a future.


Targeted population

4-6 years

October 2019 - August 2023

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Online Hate Speech

In May 2016, the European Commission agreed with Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube on a Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online (incitement to hate or violence). 

In June 2017, Germany passed a Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) to mitigate hate speech and disinformation on social networks. France adopted a similar Avia Law in 2020, while an Online Harms White Paper is discussed in the UK.

In May 2020, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed for an all-out effort to counter hate speech globally, as COVID-19 spurred a new wave of polarization and conspiracy theories.

Taking Direct Action


Detect Then Act uses human activism and AI to monitor online hate speech and campaign with positive counternarratives. We promote and support bystanders to stand up, fostering citizens to be better equipped to deal with toxicity and harassment.


Detect Then Act uses Explainable AI to identify online hate speech, assisting upstanders to deflate toxic discussions in a self-regulatory approach. The project reports illegal cases of hate speech in accordance with the EU’s Code of Conduct and local legislation.


Online hate speech is on the rise. Social media networks may (involuntary) function as echo chambers where extreme views proliferate before spilling into the public debate. Europol's Terrorism and Situation Report (TESAT 2019) observes that violent extremism is expanding.


Detect Then Act are citizens, NGOs, universities and tech companies in Belgium, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands, supervised by a board of security, legal and ethics experts. We are co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Union (REC-RRAC-ONLINE-AG-2018).

Over 400 upstanders are involved in the project, from the following initiatives:

  • No Hate Speech Movement (Council of Europe)
  • Get The Trolls Out (Media Diversity Institute)
  • Ich Bin Hier
  • Dare to be Grey

About our AI

What we do
  1. We use Explainable AI to automatically identify online hate speech. Our AI recognizes expressions that constitute racism, sexism, violence, dehumanization, …
  2. We scan social media for public messages that contain such expressions. The technology is available to registered members of our Trainers and our Upstanders programme.
  3. We encourage upstanders to respond to toxic messages, and report them if they conflict with regulation or terms of service.
What we don’t do
  1. We do not collect data. We do not track individuals, IP addresses or location. Our AI is compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
  2. We do not engage in ideology. Our AI does not favor any political or religious views. If you harass others in any way our AI may read it. 
  3. We do not harass or troll people. We’ll give you our opinion in a civilized way and leave you alone.