The Youtuber and ZEIT ONLINE columnist Rezo knows it, the Green politician Renate Künast and the presenter Dunja Hayaliebenfalls: They have all been insulted, afflicted, threatened on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. And while Hayali was successful in the past against insults, Künast has to submit to the opinion of the Berlin district court to be referred to in the Internet as "piece of shit".
Hatred and hate do not stop at celebrities. A Forsa poll at the beginning of the year found that 85 percent of 14-24 year olds were already facing Hatespeech on social media. At least 73 percent came from a similar survey of the NGO Campact. Facebook stated in its Transparency Report that in the first quarter of 2019 alone, it had removed 160,000 content deemed hate speech.
Some people receive threats because they are committed to escaping people, getting out of the coal or speeding in the city. Others are attacked for having a dark complexion. With still others, the ex-boyfriend publishes private pictures to take revenge. Whatever the founders are, it is a difficult situation for those affected. New measures for better prosecution, as the Federal Government announced this week, are of little use to private individuals at first. Nevertheless, they do not have to accept what they see on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Here are six tips on how to defend yourself against hounding in the net.
1. seek professional help
When it comes to responding to threats and hate comments, technical and legal resources are often mentioned (more on that). Too often it is forgotten what the situation actually is with the victims. Receiving a call for violence or even a death threat from a person who may know where to live or work may lead to panic and anxiety in those affected. And they can last weeks or even months. According to Campact's July survey, 66 percent of those affected by Hatespeech mentioned emotional distress, anxiety or depression. As a result, 15 percent said they had problems at work or at school.
Importantly, not all humans have the same thick coat when it comes to personal attacks. It's fine to seek professional help when you feel overwhelmed by the situation. As always, every case is different, there is no "right" handling of the situation.
If you need emotional help, you can call a counseling center . Especially for Hate on the net, there is, for example, the affected counseling HateAid. Other counseling centers may, at best, refer to other, more appropriate support services, especially when it comes to threats of violence and racism. An overview is available on the website of the Alliance Against Cyberbullying. Also on the website of the help phone (where, by the way, men are allowed to call) there is a separate section on digital violence. For children and adolescents, the number counter-problem helps with problems with the use of the Internet. And the telephone counseling and psychological emergency services in large cities such as Berlin can help in acute anxiety.
2. Block and ignore
Yes, this tip ignores the real problem. And yes, it is therefore not suitable for all cases and it is not a satisfactory option. Nevertheless, there is a reason why organizations like the AmadeuAntonio Foundation or the online portal Schau Hin! To recommend theBlocking of disturbers as a measure: Especially when it comes to utterances of individual users in the context of larger debates, it can help to use simply the block function of the social networks. Free after the saying: out of sight, out of mind.
"Freedom of speech does not mean that you have to listen to racist statements and attacks, do not let it be known that blocking is not okay," says the AmadeuAntonio Foundation website. That's true. Taking off and avoiding the situation when an anonymous stranger offends you on the Internet can in many cases help you deal with it. Often the attackers are nothing more than trolls spreading their attacks: they attack journalists, women, black people, and if they do not get the desired response, they often move on to the next target.
More problematic, however, is the tip to make your own profile seal, as recommended on individual pages: Although you should always think about which private data you reveal on the Internet and minimize it if necessary. However, reacting to hostility with self-regulation and self-censorship and completely avoiding the discourse, is exactly what the attackers want to achieve. Nevertheless, here too, the retreat , even if only temporarily, can certainly be helpful. Especially when it comes to personal attacks and you realize that you can not handle the situation well.