Hate cannot be allowed to become normal. It is not usually possible to change the viewpoint of someone who writes hate speech, but there are lots of people who will read comments and won’t have formed fixed opinions yet. We can encourage these people to think twice, offer them alternative viewpoints, and give them the courage to take a stand against hate, too.
How do you do that? One approach might look like this:
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 give them courage.
2Stay calm and don’t let yourself be provoked
Admittedly, that’s 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 again.
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 that 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. Examples include #ichbinhier, der Amadeu Antonio Stiftung oder bei LOVE-Storm.