Confronting Hate Speech Online

ADL has long empowered bystanders to become allies in the fight against hate. 

The same holds true online: fighting anti-Semitism and bigotry requires all of us to act decisively. 

When you discover hate online, here are some strategies to fight back.


Many sites, such as YouTube, allow users to flag offensive content for review.  Many also allow you to say why you thought something was offensive.  If so, make sure to include detailed comments as to why you thought the item was hateful.


Post videos, counter-points of view, or comments that oppose the offensive point of view. Let the social networking community see a competing perspective.


Perspective is crucial. Think before you respond, and try to respond in a thoughtful, careful manner.


Don't forget to post positive comments on content that shares positive messages.


Talk to your friends, teachers, or family about what you've seen.


Many groups publish information about combating particular kinds of prejudice, such as the Anti-Defamation League's resources on anti-Semitism.


Notify groups like the Anti-Defamation League, which keep track of trends in hate speech.


Take active steps to combat prejudice online and offline.


Know the community with which you are dealing. Look for a site's Terms of Service or Community Guidelines and find out about the kind of site the company wants to run – many say that they do not wish to host hateful content – and hold the site accountable to it. 

A word about free speech and censorship. ADL is a leading advocate for free speech and does not believe in government suppression of hateful speech merely because it is hateful. However, many websites and social networking sites voluntarily agree to exercise good corporate responsibility and limit the hateful content they purvey. In such cases, we believe that users should speak out firmly against the hate they encounter on those sites, and in turn the sites should live up to their stated Terms of Service or Community Guidelines.

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