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What is hate speech?

Hate speech is any type of communication where people discriminate against others based on their religion, disability, national origin, race, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation. It can be verbal, written, or symbolic. Hate speech often aims to dehumanize, humiliate, and intimidate individuals or whole communities. People tend to use aggression to express it, but it can also have more subtle forms.


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Why is hate speech harmful? How can it impact people’s lives?

Hate speech is harmful for many reasons among others it can have a psychological impact. A person may feel fear, anxiety, depression, as well as other negative emotions after reading or hearing an unpleasant comment about him or herself. This can lead to, for example, lowered self-esteem, the development of complexes. It can erode the sense of safety and belonging, or even cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Hate speech makes acts of violence and discrimination more normalized and socially acceptable. It also leads to the division of society into different groups.

Hate speech poses a threat to democratic values, such as freedom and equality, for example. It gets in the way of maintaining a good atmosphere, having a dialogue and expressing one's own opinion in such a way that others respect it and can also share their own views.

Laws and regulations surrounding hate speech

Hate speech laws vary widely between countries.


  • In the United States, hate speech is protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution. However there are limitations if it is apparent that the speech contains violence or could pose a threat. Hate speech may violate laws against harassment, stalking, or intimidation as well as civil laws if the speech is motivated by discrimination against protected characteristics.

  • Germany, on the other hand, has stricter laws. Spreading hate speech is a criminal offense, especially on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. All social media are also under the Network Enforcement Act which quickly removes all illegal comments containing hate speech.

  • In the UK, hate speech is regulated by laws such as the Public Order Act and the Racial and Religious Hatred Act. These prohibit hate speech on the basis of religion and race, for example.

  • Hate speech laws in Canada attempt to balance freedom of expression with protecting groups or individuals from discrimination and violence. Canada's Human Rights Act also prohibits the spread of hate in certain contexts, such as employment.

  • France has laws on hate speech, including provisions in the Criminal Code that criminalize the spread of racial and religious hatred. In the country, all social networks are obliged to remove all forms of hate speech within 24 hours, otherwise they could face financial penalties.

  • In Poland, the laws preventing hate speech are criminal code, prosecution and enforcement, as well as civil law where there is The Act on Equal Treatment.

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How to combat hate speech?


Enforcing stricter hate speech laws that provide penalties for offenders


Educate and make people aware of how harmful hate speech is.

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What role does social media have in spreading hate speech?

Once something is inserted on a social media platform, it spreads very quickly. The information reaches other users in a short period of time. Therefore, posting hate speech can be extremely damaging to the person or community that is the victim.

With anonymity online, users often allow themselves to do too much. They express hateful views and hate others, which they might not do in public. The worst part is that they can do this without fear of any consequences.


Echo chambers and social media algorithms that display mainly information that the user is interested in. This can cause reinforcement of beliefs by showing the user only the content of people what have the same views and thus insulate him from different perspectives.

Social media platforms should set clear rules against hate speech and hire moderators or create systems to moderate content in order to find and then remove harmful comments and posts.

They should promote positive content to combat hate speech. They could highlight topics related to diversity, tolerance, as well as respect, among others. Social media should also educate and inform users about the dangers of hate speech.

Our project to combat hate speech

1. Finding and tracking hate speech

  • We launched a project to combat hate speech in Poland on the grounds of ethnicity at the start of the war in Israel

  • The subjects of the hate speech were both Muslim minorities and Jews. 

  • Don't get us wrong: it is OK to oppose the war. It is ok to criticise governments and politicians. It is ok to criticise actions. It is not OK to use hate language against ALL people of a particular ethnic origin. It is not OK to incite violence. 


2. Elimination of accounts that included hate speech

  • As part of our project in January and February 2024, we made reports of accounts that spread hate. 

  • Reducing hate speech is possible! In a period of 2 months, we achieved an effectiveness of 9.3%. Out of 247 hate speech reports, we achieved hate speech reduction for 19 accounts (by deleting hurtful messages) and permanent suspension/deletion of 4 accounts.

  • Our short project proved that reducing hate speech is possible and that social media can respond to extreme violations. 

  • We urge you to REPORT any incidents of hate speech online to the relevant social media or publishers. 

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#EndHateFor Peace

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