Hate Speech

Written by Jo Langford, M.A.

Hate speech (abusive words or threats) towards someone because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender expression can be difficult and distressing to experience, whether or not you are the target. Read below to learn some important tips and tools to help you navigate and avoid being a part of hate speech online.

Social Media
  • Many people use the anonymity of our screens as an excuse to say horrible things that they wouldn’t say to someone’s face. Don’t be that person, and don’t put up with those who do.
  • Report threats or vicious/cruel messages to a caregiver, teacher, or an adult that you trust. Most platforms will have a block and report function for people who are being offensive or inappropriate.
  • Keep your feeds and interactions positive: no hate speech, phobic remarks, misogyny, rape “jokes,” or threats.
  • Assume that anything you share on social media can be shared with everyone including teachers, grandparents, police, or classmates.
  • Unfriend/unfollow/block those who make you uncomfortable, and don’t waste time trying to argue with others who engage in digital drama, negative commenting, or hate speech.
  • Be a value-add on the internet, rather than contributing to the noise and negativity.
  • Block and report are helpful tools, use them!
Screen Time
  • Collecting evidence can help you report hate crimes: this can include photos, video, and copies of messages (written, electronic, and verbal).
  • Using your screens to get and stay connected to a larger network of people can help remind us that there are places we belong and groups that will embrace us — even if some others do not.
  • Things such as activism, pride, and other forms of support create opportunities for growth and supporting others, which can balance out the negative effects of hate.
  • Do not create sexual, violent, or offensive screen names, avatars/gamer tags, or profiles.
  • When you see someone else being targeted or harmed, it is important (now more than ever) to be an upstander rather than a bystander.
  • Remember that you did not (and do not) deserve to be targeted. Understand that this still happens anyway, but know that the world (and most people in it) are still good.