What is the difference between Online Hate and Free Speech?

These are common responses when people are challenged about some of the things they say. But this is a complex area. In the UK, free speech means the right to seek, receive and share information and ideas with others.

But this freedom must be used responsibly, and can be restricted when considered ‘grossly offensive’ or seen as threatening or encouraging hateful activity. Hate speech, particularly online, often describe those targeted  as being ‘the other’, in opposition to the author’s group, and even dehumanises them. Hate speech perpetrators often see ‘the other’ as enemies and the sole cause of problems in society.

What does Amnesty International say about free speech? Click on the link below to find out more about what our rights and responsibilities are in the area of free speech.


Think about all the ways that you are active online. Some suggestions are given below:

All internet platforms can be places where people post hateful content, whether as words, videos, photos or memes, and cause great harm. It is up to all of us to consider our own online content and make sure we are not crossing the line from free speech to hate speech.

Remember, if something targets a group or person because of an aspect of their identity, it is Hate Speech!

Click here for the next page

Click here to return to our Young People’s Online Hate Resource Hub