PROPS – Narrativas Interativas Propõem Discurso Pluralista [PROPS-Interactive Narratives Propose Pluralistic Discourse] is the most recent CIAC project approved for funding and will begin in March 2023. The project was submitted for the Concurso de Projetos de I&D em Todos os Domínios Científicos – 2022 of the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). Project PROPS focuses on the field of Communication Sciences, and involves the University of Algarve, The Polytechnic Institute of Santarém, The Open University of Lisbon, and the University of Beira Interior. It intends to act on media prevention and education, focusing on containing hate speech online.

Playing an online game or interacting on a social network, a gaming community, or a digital platform is part of the daily life of most children, young people, and adolescents. It has, however, implications on their personality development and influences their behavior and conflict management skills.

During the pandemic—especially during lockdowns—many everyday activities (such as going to school) were transferred to the virtual sphere. Therefore, children, young people, and adolescents’ exposure to hate speech has increased; however, they have not been provided with the necessary tools and strategies to manage such situations. Besides, the pandemic has given rise to a new wave of virtual toxicity, bringing with it an increase in discrimination and intolerance, just when children and young people were most dependent on digital platforms. Although some European and national laws—as well as the European Union Code of Conduct—have taken some important steps in combating online hate speech, digital spheres remain ungovernable.

It is in this context that this project is created. Interactive Narratives Propose Pluralistic Discourse (PROPS [slang for proper respect – due respect]) focuses on developing a new approach to hate speech through the creation of interactive narratives (both digital and analog) that can attract, motivate, and engage educators, trainers, children, and young people to take an active role in containing hate speech online. The project proposes the analysis of hate speech and the development of transmedia educational tools (with complementary narratives) that focus on its social challenges.

The project team is led by CIAC researchers Bruno Mendes da Silva and Ana Filipa Martins and composed of specialists with experience in the fields of Education, Media Studies, and Media literacy, and the creation and production of interactive films, video games and educational pathways based on gamification: Mirian Tavares, Carolina de Sousa, António Costa Valente, Susana Costa and Patrícia Dourado (CIAC/UAlg); Maria Potes Barbas and José Dias (CIAC/IPSantarém); José Bidarra (CIAC/UAB); Francisco Merino and Luís Nogueira (University of Beira Interior). In addition to the cooperation between researchers, this project involves public and political institutions, the educational community, as well as the non-specialized public.

The Funding competition for R&D projects in all scientific fields is held annually and is part of the major FCT funding competitions. 633 projects were approved for funding, which corresponds to an investment of 75,6 million euros supported by national funds through FCT.