Get over your shock!
Although almost all of us have come across hateful comments online before, very few people actually do anything about it. Instead, when confronted by hate, we are paralyzed by shock. We don’t know whether we should respond or how, so we quickly scroll on. How could we respond, take a stand against hate, and make discussions more constructive?
It is important for the victims of hate to see other people taking action. After all, a lack of solidarity can be almost as bad as hate itself. That means taking a clear stand in response to hateful comments. It’s also a good idea to contact the people who have been targeted with a direct message to comfort them.
2Stay calm and don’t let yourself be provoked
Admittedly easier said than done! Although a swift response is good, it’s not essential. Particularly when you’re emotionally charged, taking a breath and doing something else first can be a good way of clearing your head.
3Use fact checkers!
Generalizations and fake news are often used to incite hatred against certain groups. In these cases, it makes sense to counter assertions with facts. Doing this is not always as difficult as you might think. False stories and reports that crop up again and again on the internet will often already have been debunked by professional fact checkers such as Correctiv, Mimikama, Tagesschau Faktenfinder, and ZDFheuteCheck.
4Report posts or comments that breach rules!
You can do this on Facebook by clicking the three dots at the top edge of a post. The administrator is then required to check the post or comment and delete it, if appropriate. When reporting hateful or harmful content to the police it is important to take screenshots or back up the link, ideally with the name and date/time. In Germany, you can file reports either online or at any police station.
5Practice taking on the haters!
Many of the groups that work against online hate speech and marginalization offer free online courses during which people can practice responding and try out new strategies in a safe space. These can be found, e.g., at #ichbinhier, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation or at LOVE‑Storm.
Some 21 percent of internet users in Germany have responded to hate speech by criticizing it. Some 29 percent have reported hate speech to the relevant online portal, and 1 percent have reported hate speech to the police (The Media Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia, 2022).