- the harm done to its targets, either from personal harassment or from online spaces being experienced as hostile;
- the risk that those who encounter it may be radicalized by it, becoming more sympathetic and possibly even active; and
- the effect that it has on the values and culture of the online spaces in which it happens.
This lesson starts with an interactive quiz that teaches students about the ways in which hate may be encountered online.
Most kids see hate and prejudice in places like games, social networks, and online videos. They also say that they want to do something about it when they see it, but don’t know what to do.
In its early days, the internet was often spoken of as a free marketplace of ideas, where everyone’s views and thoughts could be shared and compete on an equal footing. Today it’s an essential tool for accessing information and services, but its value as a vehicle of civic engagement and debate has in many ways declined.
Since its earliest days, the internet has been hailed as a uniquely open marketplace of ideas, and it has become an essential means for people to access information and services. The downside of this is that, alongside its many valuable resources, the internet also offers a host of offensive materials – including hateful content – that attempt to inflame public opinion against certain groups and to turn people against one another.
It is not always easy to discern when hateful content on the internet crosses the line from being offensive to illegal. The line between hate speech and free speech is a thin one, and different countries have different levels of tolerance. The line is even thinner in digital environments where hateful comments posted lawfully in one country can be read in other countries where they may be deemed unlawful.
Traditional government responses to online hate have been to police cyberspace as an extension of the state’s territory, ignoring the online/offline divide.
The Responding to Online Hate guide assists law enforcement personnel, community groups and educators in recognizing and countering hateful content on the Internet – especially as it pertains to youth.
For all that the Internet can offer us, it sometimes offers a platform for promoting hatred and violence. In this section, we cover what online hate means, what Canadian law says about it, and how young people and adults can respond to it while keeping in mind Canada’s position on freedom of expression.
Online hate can have an impact in three interconnected ways: