What is Online Hate?

What do we mean by Online Hate Crime?

UK law protects people from being targeted because of an aspect of their identity. If a post is hostile towards a person’s race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity it could be viewed as Hate Speech, and, if serious enough, may break the law, whether it is on- or offline. These are called the ‘protected strands’ of identity.

Hate Crimes and Incidents – what’s the difference?

A single ‘Hate Incident’ may not immediately break the law, but a series of Hate Incidents may add up to a criminal act. Online Hate Speech is serious and is a crime if it targets one of the aspects of identity listed above.

What does the law say about Online Hate Crime?

Because of the nature of social media, online Hate Speech can reach a very large number of people, and is viewed as seriously as any other Hate Crime. Arrests can be made and the person posting it could end up with a criminal record or even imprisonment.

Below are some examples of the things that someone posting Hate Speech could be charged with:

If a post or electronic communication can be proved to be targeting someone based on their identity (race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender) the offender may receive a ‘sentence uplift’. This means their punishment is increased because it was a Hate Crime. Some examples of online Hate Crime are here:

The Crown Prosecution Service has published a leaflet explaining what Hate Crime is. You can access it by clicking on the image below.

Remember, online Hate speech can have all kinds of negative impacts on a poster’s life – see below for kinds of things the can happen to perpetrators:

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