New nationwide studyEvery second person withdraws because of online hate

More than half of internet users are less likely to express their own political opinion and participate in discussions for fear of online hate. Sexualized attacks on social networks are part of everyday life for young women in particular. People with a visible migration background and queer people are also increasingly exposed to threats of violence and insults online. These are the findings of the representative study "Loud Hate - Quiet Retreat" published today. The survey is published by the Competence Network against Hate on the Net.

The study is the most comprehensive investigation into the perception, impact and consequences of online hate in Germany since 2019. More than 3,000 internet users in Germany aged 16 and over were surveyed. The most important results:

  • Online hate can affect everyone. But not everyone equally. Almost every second person (49%) has been insulted online. A quarter (25%) of respondents have been confronted with physical violence and 13% with sexualized violence. People with a visible migration background (30%), young women (30%) and people with a homosexual (28%) or bisexual (36%) orientation are particularly frequently affected, according to their own statements. Almost every second young woman (42%) has already received an unsolicited nude photo.
  • Online hate leads to withdrawal from democratic discourse. More than half of respondents are less likely to express their own political opinion online (57%), participate less in discussions (55%) and deliberately formulate posts more cautiously (53%) due to fear. 82% of respondents fear that online hate is a threat to diversity on the internet. More than three quarters (76%) are concerned that hate online will also increase violence in everyday life. The majority (89%) agree that online hate has increased in recent years. Only 5% have ever reported hate against themselves to the police.
  • Platforms must take responsibility for hate online. 86% of respondents think that social media platforms need to take more responsibility. 79% agree with the statement that these platforms should also bear financial responsibility for the social damage caused by online hate.

Demands of the editors

The publishers of the study call for better support for those affected by online hate speech. A nationwide network of specialized advice centers and trained law enforcement agencies that take those affected seriously and do not turn them away are needed. Because the study shows: So far, people who experience hate online have only taken advantage of institutional services in a few cases. Consistent application of existing laws on the internet is therefore necessary. The European Digital Services Act (DSA) must be implemented quickly.

They demand that social media platformstake consistent action against hate and violations of youth media protection. In future, very large online platforms in particular would also have to take financial responsibility for the social damage caused by hate and disinformation.

The organizations are also calling for a national media literacy education campaign, which should be funded with at least the same amount as the digital pact between the federal and state governments (6.5 billion euros). Civil society should also be better supported and hate dynamics on the internet should be continuously monitored.

About the competence network against hate online

The new study on hate online is published by the organizations Das NETTZ, the Gesellschaft für Medienpädagogik und Kommunikationskultur, HateAid and the Neue deutsche Medienmacher*innen as part of the competence network against hate online . The Competence Network against Hate on the Net is an association of five organizations that are committed to combating hate speech and violence in the digital space. As a central point of contact, the competence network provides information to anyone who needs guidance on the topic of hate online, is looking for help, wants to get involved, report on it or wants to receive further training. The competence network is funded by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth in the federal program "Live Democracy!", the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia.