Hate Speech on the Internet

How can Internet users become active against hate speech?

Hate speech on the Internet is unfortunately an increasing problem in Germany, especially in social media. A recent representative forsa survey showed that almost 80% of German Internet users have already seen hate speech or hate comments on the Internet. Among younger internet users (14-24 years), the figure is as high as 96% (source: Landesanstalt für Medien NRW, 2018). But what is Hate Speech actually and what can be done against it? 

Hate speech is a political term, so there is no universally applicable definition for the phenomenon so far. The NO HATE SPEECH MOVEMENT, which grew out of a Council of Europe initiative, defines Hate Speech as follows:

"We define hate speech as linguistic acts against individuals and/or groups with the aim of devaluing or threatening them on the basis of their belonging to a disadvantaged group in society. The person or group does not have to be in a numerical minority for this to happen; conversely, minority groups are not automatically disadvantaged. Examples of hate speech for us are sexism, (anti-Muslim) racism, anti-Semitism, anti-gypsyism, neo-Nazism, classism (discrimination against the "lower" classes), Ableism (discrimination against the disabled), homophobia and transphobia." (No Hate Speech Movement, 2018).

What does Hate Speech actually look like?

Hate Speech exists both in real life, e.g. in the form of graffiti on walls, but also and - above all - online. It ranges from insulting comments under photos or newspaper articles to coordinated actions by special actors who join forces for the sole purpose of spreading hate comments. Hate speech can negatively influence moods on the Internet and thus becomes a danger to democratic discourse. It's not always easy, but we can all do something directly or indirectly against Hate Speech!

What can you actively do against Hate Speech?

Report it to the provider: Hate comments, images or content harmful to minors can be reported to providers using report buttons. According to the Network Enforcement Act, these providers are obligated to delete the obviously illegal content within 24 hours. In case of violation, social networks face a fine of up to 5 million euros (Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, 2017). 

Report to jugendschutz.net and the Internet Complaints Office: Content that is clearly  harmful to minors, such as right-wing extremist content that is not deleted by the providers, can also be reported to the following complaints offices: 

Counter: Counter Speech (Gegenrede) is possible in many ways: on the one hand, you can actively enter into discussion with the haters and ask for evidence for alleged "facts". Funny memes, videos and sayings posted under Hate comments can help to take a clear position against the hate without a long discussion and steer the mood in a more positive direction.
Examples of memes on different topics collected:www.no-hate-speech.de

Educate: There are several ways to address the issue of Hate Speech in the classroom or in social work. The infographic from handysektor and the radio documentary about haters and trolls "Lösch Dich! This is how organized hate is on the net" provide information and offer suggestions for discussion. In addition, klicksafe offers a series of teaching units: 

klicksafe teaching module: What to do about (cyber)bullying?

  • Project 7: Delete - block - report: Stop (cyber)bullying! (Page: 226)

klicksafe teaching module: Ethics makes click - values navigator for digital life

  • Project 3: Respect and care on the Net: "Station Online Editorial" and "Station Get a grip on your emotions" (page 81 ff.)
  • Project 4: How should I decide? (page 87)
  • Project 5: Etiquette 2.0 (page 89)

klicksafe teaching module: Right-wing extremism has many faces




Additional information: