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civil courage

Jay’s experience really hits home and leaves us speechless. All too often, the internet acts as a breeding ground for hatred and incitement. However, we are not powerless – and the more people there are who show civil courage online, the more likely it is that the internet will become a place where everyone can feel safe. We can make it a place where people can come together based on democratic rules.
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An attack on us all

The internet offers a world of possibilities and inspiration. It brings people together. Yet it is also increasingly being misused to marginalize and intimidate people, with social networks filling up with lies, insults, and slander. Some see the anonymity of the internet as a license to attack other people without any consequences, and such online attacks spread rapidly as they attract hangers-on. At first, this concentrated hate leaves us speechless. Attacks are often aimed at things like a person’s skin color, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, age, disability, or religion. Alternatively, people might be targeted because they belong to a certain section of society or because they have a particular job. Political viewpoints are also targeted. Ultimately, anyone can be affected.

Hate divides
society

So what is the actual purpose of these attacks? Well, it depends. As you might expect, “silencing” is all about getting specific people to stop speaking out. For example, activists who champion the human rights of refugees online, advocate for women’s rights, or – like Jay – seek to promote transgender issues don’t have to wait long until hateful comments start coming their way. Many people who are affected in this way pull back because they don’t feel able to cope with such huge pressure. Of course, that is exactly what their attackers want. If they can shut down anyone who thinks differently than them, then it appears as if their opinion is the only one that counts. What’s more, important viewpoints are then absent that would otherwise help shape opinions – all because those voices have been silenced. This is how extreme political ideologies can spread, and that is a threat to our democracy!

The situation with internet trolls is a little different. Trolls seem simply to enjoy abusing other people and are not selective in who they target. They thrive on provocation. Even though they are a smaller group than that involved in silencing, their attacks don’t just affect their victims – they ultimately have an impact on all of us.

After all, when insults and antisocial statements become increasingly common, people start to get used to them and then suddenly things that were previously considered outrageous or extreme become socially acceptable.

Quiz

Is that allowed?

Abuse someone in person on the street and you risk prosecution. So what is the situation with social media?

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Question 1 of 4

Tom writes on Facebook „Michaela has a different one in bed every night!“

Right

Wrong

Deliberately asserting or spreading untrue facts that violate the honor of a person and degrade their reputation in public opinion is called "slander" and is prohibited.

Next question (2 of 4)
Your result


Too bad. Would you like to try again? Not bad for the beginning. Great result!

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Question 2 of 4

I am sharing the picture of a swastika online – its supposed to be funny, though!

Right

Wrong

The swastika is a forbidden symbol and may not be used or distributed in Germany. Both is a criminal offence.

Next question (3 of 4)
Your result


Too bad. Would you like to try again? Not bad for the beginning. Great result!

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Question 3 of 4

Gerd posts on Instagram „Islam is not a part of Germany!“

Right

Wrong

But what is decisive is the context! If one's own opinion is recognizable ("I think that....."), such a statement is permitted. But if persons are discriminated against or disparaged, it is not allowed and no longer falls under freedom of opinion.

Next question (4 of 4)
Your result


Too bad. Would you like to try again? Not bad for the beginning. Great result!

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Question 4 of 4

Renate comments „Punch holes in the boats! Refugees only steal our German money!“

Right

Wrong

That is incitement of the people. Anyone who incites hatred, violence and arbitrariness against a certain group of people or attacks the human dignity of others, thus disturbing public peace, is liable to prosecution.

Show evaluation
Your result


Too bad. Would you like to try again? Not bad for the beginning. Great result!

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Sock puppets and love speech

Are you wondering what cute little sock puppets have to do with online hate? Here are some interesting terms related to online etiquette:

1Sock puppet

Second and third accounts belonging to one and the same person that communicate with each other and back each other up so it looks as if several different people are talking together.

2Troll

A person who spreads a breathtaking number of negative and provocative comments to disrupt discussions.

3Hate speech

Statements designed to demean, attack, or incite hatred or violence against people.

4Love speech

The opposite of hate speech. Love speech is a call for appreciative and respectful language.

5Online uproar

An online avalanche of derogatory criticism aimed at a person or company.

6Silencing

A huge outpouring of hate with the aim of forcing alternative opinions out of social media.

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?

Podcast Digitale Zivilcourage

Podcast Digitale Zivilcourage

Countering hate

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:

1Show solidarity!

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.

Hate and incitement have no place in our society – not on the internet and not in real life, where words unfortunately become deeds. We believe everyone should be able to enter into dialog with each other on the basis of fairness. We are taking specific steps to pursue this aim. Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Höttges

Making sure everybody can #TAKEPART without being afraid

At Deutsche Telekom, we passionately believe that people should be able to utilize the benefits of the digital era. That includes doing everything we can to ensure they enjoy their travels in the digital world and don’t have to worry that they are going to be attacked, marginalized, or hurt. We won’t stop until everyone is able to #TAKEPART in the digital sphere without being afraid. That is why we are actively working to shape a positive culture of dialog on the internet.

#NOHATESPEECH

#NOHATESPEECH

We launched #nohatespeech in summer 2020, a campaign that centers on real people who have been victims of online hate. The promotional video for the campaign uses Jay’s story to illustrate just how hurtful incitement, abusive language, and insults can be. We want to draw attention to this unacceptable situation. The video is designed to raise awareness, offer victims some support, and, most importantly, encourage more people to show civil courage so that hate does not become normal.

We are pursuing partnerships

A number of committed organizations offer concrete strategies for countering online hate. We work alongside many of these organizations or assist them with their social commitment. For example, we are collaborating with managerfragen.org and #ichbinhier to offer workshops geared toward skills in the digital world and know-how on democracy. We have compiled a selection of our partner organizations and initiatives and what they offer at www.telekom.com/en/company/topic-specials/no-hate-speech.

Countering hate
with knowledge

1#TAKEPART-STORIES

2Teachtoday

3SCROLLER media magazine for kids

4Magenta Moon 2020

We are taking a stand.

The far right is resurgent in Europe. The pandemic is also causing a great deal of insecurity and anxiety among many people. All that is creating a breeding ground for conspiracy theories and fake news. In our podcast series, we provide information for anyone who would like to know more about the following issues. These are currently only available in German.

Digital civil courage

Digital civil courage

What exactly is it? What are the differences between the analog and digital worlds? What does it have to do with every one of us? Go to the podcast here.

The power of language

The power of language

Language influences how we view the world. We can use language consciously and promote constructive dialog on the internet, too. Go to the podcast here.

Filter bubbles and echo chambers

Filter bubbles and echo chambers

What is reality – and what is our life in the filter chamber? How to protect yourself from information monotony and warped perceptions. Go to the podcast here.

First-aid course for the internet?

First-aid course for the internet?

There are any number of people online who come across hate and incitement in the digital world, but only few do anything about it. What has to happen before we take action? Go to the podcast here.

Conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theories

What is behind them – and is the digital world actually leading to the development of more, brand-new conspiracy theories? Go to the podcast here.

Online hate

Online hate

Hate is a social problem that affects all of us. How can it be stopped? Go to the podcast here.

Manipulation on the internet

Manipulation on the internet

Using the internet to form your own opinion or falling for spin? What happens to us every day on the internet? Go to the podcast here.

Fake news

Fake news

We’ve all heard of it and we’ve probably all been taken in by it at one time or another. Find out what every one of us can do. Go to the podcast here.

Cause for optimism

Democracy and human rights cannot be taken for granted. That is why we have to champion them – so we don’t lose these achievements. Around 75 percent of the hate online comes from antidemocratic or far-right movements. We should not sit back and wait for new legal frameworks to be put in place to regulate online activities. Instead, we need to empower ourselves to navigate the digital world independently. That includes every one of us showing civil courage so that hate does not become normal.

There is good reason to be optimistic! It has been scientifically proven that if we reinforce our owna skills through experience or experimentation, we become more courageous and are more likely to step in when something is not right. We also feel better when we can take a bad feeling and turn it into concrete action, and studies have shown that objective responses to online hate and incitement can considerably defuse arguments. Furthermore, people who demonstrate civil courage are not alone! So far, more than 45,000 people have come together under the #ichbinhier (#Iamhere) hashtag alone to show that they are against hate and marginalization on the internet – every day!