Hate speech


Verbal assaults based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, or political and union affiliation or other identities or characteristics such as age or economic status can be described as hate speech. 

Legally, to qualify as hate speech, speech must be proven to target certain protected groups or identities. Online, however, hate speech goes beyond these protected categories, to target multiple groups or identities simultaneously, compounding the effects on already marginalized groups.  An intersectional approach is therefore crucial, to understand the structural and all-encompassing effects of hate speech.

All journalists and media workers can report violence to an official Journalists’ Association, even if they aren’t members. These associations can provide information and advice on how to file criminal charges, and other suggestions for dealing with and overcoming online harassment. Even if you decide not to report the crime to the police, consider informing the Journalists Association or relevant CSOs about the incident. This information is valuable for them to learn more about online violence, and to later use this data for advocacy purposes and, ideally, change. Associations often have resources and services, including mental health support or legal counseling that smaller media organizations or freelance journalists can’t easily access. Several CSOs have developed expertise after years of work combating online violence, and can offer valuable information and assistance.

For some who have been targeted with online violence, instead of moving away from online participation, they chose to respond with more speech and more engagement. Speaking openly about an experience of online abuse (in addition to utilizing institutional or alternative mechanisms of protection), can be helpful for several reasons. Naming and shaming your abuser and exposing them to public scrutiny can also be a mechanism of protection, helping you regain a sense of control and empowerment in helping others in similar experiences, and raises public awareness about digital violence. As the broader public learns the extent and scope of online abuse, they will recognize its negative effects on society and, hopefully, demand a response from State officials. If you chose this path, try to focus on sharing your experience and the personal and community impacts of an assault.

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