Hate speech online is an increasing problem but not enough charity staff know how to respond, according to those behind a new free guide.
Charities Against Hate, a collective of over 40 charities, was set up earlier this year to pressure social media platforms to remove hate speech. Today it has published a guide, A Guide to Best Practice in Ethical Digital Marketing & Comms Practices, encouraging charities to better address hate speech.
Hate speech involves people making offensive comments, encouraging others to be horrible to others and threats of violence.
The collective conducted research earlier this year, which found that staff, beneficiaries and supporters had all witnessed hate speech.
Most (77%) of the 57 charity staff who responded to the survey have not received any training in dealing with online hate. Meanwhile, 81% of the 224 beneficiary respondents said they had experienced or witnessed hate speech online.
Simon Francis, founder member of Campaign Collective and chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity Group, said: "While the increased use of technology to keep us connected during the pandemic has been a positive step, we have also seen a drastic increase in hate speech online. This hate speech affects almost every group of society - no matter what cause you are fighting for, it is a sad reality that putting your head above the parapet can be met with abuse.
"Today's research reveals the extent of the problem and enough is enough. The first step is for charities and their supporters themselves to take action. The recommendations published today will help the sector do more to address hate speech online and in the new year Charities Against Hate will be making recommendations for media owners to follow."
The report urges charities to “visibly engage” with hate speech if appropriate to help address “underlying societal issues”, and to always report inappropriate content to the platform it has been posted on.
It says there are exceptions to this “particularly in the case of hateful content that directly targets named”.
Charities Against Hate encourages charities to actively promote positive, diverse and inclusive content on charity-owned channels that represents the charity’s audiences.
It also emphasises that charities should provide support for moderators. This means ensuring there is a clear process to follow, having breaks and access to counselling if needed.
To raise awareness Charities Against Hate is curating a storytelling week of action. From today it is asking people to post using #ShareYourStory.