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How to deal with hate online

The internet allows us all to stay in contact with each other, but sometimes you can't choose whose content you consume. Everyone knows malicious posts on the Internet that offend other people. Some have even been victims of such an attack themselves.

Why people rush on the internet

People are just as much a part of society on the Internet as they are in the real world. However, they have the option of appearing anonymously. This makes it easier to convey hateful utterances, explains Dr. Iren Schulz from the "Look!" Initiative:

Something bad does not arise from Instagram or Facebook, but the social environment of the users is the basis. This doesn't actually happen where people are well integrated in the social network.

Dr. Iren Schulz, media coach for the "Look!"

Especially when people get into trouble in real life and are dissatisfied, they can use social networks as an outlet and a stage at the same time. This is an explanation, but not an excuse to offend other people.

What you can do about hatred and agitation

Regardless of whether you are affected by the topic yourself or notice that someone else is being attacked online, according to Schulz, everyone can do something:

It is important to get up and show courage, just like in real life. And that doesn't have to be mandatory by engaging in a discussion.

Dr. Iren Schulz, media coach for the "Look!"

In principle, she does not advise against participating in debates on the Internet. Many people could also be caught again by pointing out their wrongdoing; one does not have to swing a club of the law straight away.

But if that is too risky for you, you can definitely show solidarity with those affected. You can do this by texting them and assisting them. But this is also the case if you report relevant posts to the site operator or, in very blatant cases, also inform the police. Prof. Dr. Lars Koch from TU Dresden said:

At the latest when the structures of a campaign can be identified, it is necessary to call in the police.

Prof. Dr. Lars Koch, professor for media studies at the TU Dresden

How you can protect yourself

Schulz from the "Look!" advises to be careful with your own data and that of others. So everyone can try to prevent a steep assist in order to become a victim of hate speech on the net themselves. Koch from the TU Dresden, however, regards this approach as difficult, because it can lead to disrupting the democratic and social discourse on the Internet:

[That] is exactly what hate writers want to achieve. They want to homogenize and control the discourse and intimidate, exclude and silence those who think differently.

Prof. Dr. Lars Koch, professor for media studies at the TU Dresden

Therefore, in the best case scenario, everyone should weigh up what they are revealing and what the consequences could be.