Online Hate Speech is Pervasive. Here’s How to Start Combating it.

After a presidential campaign notable for its demonization of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities – and now under a presidency that is continuing that dangerous trend – some people are feeling more validated and emboldened than ever. On public forums like Twitter, there’s been an uptick of harassment and threats (see here and here, for example) from racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Muslim individuals. And some of their victims have felt they have no choice but to quit the platforms and silence themselves.

This rise in hate speech is even translating into violent actions offline. Gavin McInnes, a leader of the “alt-right” white nationalist movement, punched a protester at Trump’s inaugural events and then bragged about it online.

We cannot let the spread of hate speech to continue. We cannot let people celebrate racism, misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, and white nationalism under the banner of free speech.

Here’s how you can help combat hate speech online and stop the spread of violent actions:

  • Hold platforms accountable for hate speech. Report tweets, YouTube videos, Instagram posts, Facebook posts, and other speech that spreads hate to the platforms that are hosting it and demand action. If given the opportunity, be specific about what you find offensive and why.
  • Raise awareness of the problem. Talk to your friends and family about why hate speech is not a problem just for the internet, but our societies and culture at large
  • Support people who are targets of hate speech. Fight back against harmful messages in public places by publicly standing with victims and showing solidarity
  • Boost positive messages of tolerance. Part of modeling what we don’t want to see is modeling what we do want to see
  • Notify organizations fighting hate about the worst instances you see. Tracking hate, where it’s coming from, and who it’s directed at is an important part of fighting it.