Digital violence is massive in Europe – economy

A few months ago, a case would have occurred in Hamburg and now concerns justice. A store owner called a police officer a “student pilot”, according to the official’s allegation. Follows: charges of insult, the prosecutor’s office investigated, the criminal proceedings will soon open.

If this episode had taken place on the internet, if the victim had been a woman instead of a police officer, if the insult had been a much meaner word or even a threat of death or rape, the case would likely have shot differently. Most likely, nothing would have happened. “Hate on the net usually has no consequences, unfortunately it has to be said that way,” says Anna-Lena von Hodenberg, founder of the organization Hate Aid, which supports victims of hate on the net with funding from legal costs, among others.

Open detailed view

“The platforms have invested a lot of money in lobbying in Brussels,” explains Anna-Lena von Hodenberg, founder of the Hate Aid organization.

(Photo: Andrea Heinsohn / oh)

A new representative survey carried out on behalf of Hate Aid and the Alfred Landecker Foundation shows: Digital violence has taken on massive proportions in Europe. 91% of young adults have witnessed the hate and agitation on the Internet multiple times. One in two people in the 18-35 age group have even been personally affected by digital violence. Across all age groups, more than two-thirds of those surveyed have experienced hatred and unrest on the Internet in their lifetime. Women in particular are affected and, therefore, censor themselves: 52% of women surveyed are increasingly cautious and anonymous via social networks for fear of digital attacks. But 35 percent of men are intimidated by the threat of hate. A total of 2,000 people aged 18 to 80 across the 27 EU member states were interviewed for the study in 2021.

However, unwanted online nude photos, slurs or threats of rape rarely end up in court. “Twitter and Facebook are in Ireland. A Greek victim should formulate the complaint in English and file it in Ireland in a legally secure manner,” Hodenberg explains. “It’s expensive, nobody does that.” And most victims are also reluctant to try to assert their rights directly against major social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook or against pornographic platforms where real or fake images or videos of women are often found against their will. . “The obstacles are too high,” says Hodenberg.

EU is working on new legislation

In the survey, 80% of people say that online platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter are not doing enough to protect themselves against digital violence. More than 90 percent of respondents are in favor of more effective removal of reported illegal content. 80% of those questioned would like to have a say in the criteria according to which contributions are presented to them. 84% of men and 92% of women believe that laws are inevitable or at least desirable to control online platforms.

It’s likely that these will come – but it’s still unclear what they will look like. The European Union will soon adopt the law on digital services on this subject. The European Parliament wants to take a decision on this in December, and there will be a big hearing in Brussels next Tuesday. From next year, the European Council, the Commission and the Parliament will jointly negotiate how to proceed for the protection of network users and the rights and obligations of platform operators.

Hate Aid participates in the process and wants to sensitize European politicians alongside the victims. “The platforms have invested a lot of money in lobbying in Brussels,” explains Hodenberg. “Of course, they have no interest in users being able to better enforce their rights and, for example, oppose. To do that, they would need better content moderators, better internal processes, and so on. it costs money. ” A petition from Hate Aid and several other European organizations such as # Não Partilhes from Portugal, Digitalt Ansvar from Denmark or Stop Fisha from France has already collected more than 10,000 signatures. The aim is to better protect women against digital violence, including an EU-wide obligation to remove stolen nude photos from the internet and a point of contact on each country’s platforms for victims. can contact in their language, whereas so far most have only received standard automated responses to complaints. “We are really not calling for a revolution,” says Hodenberg. “These are the fundamental rights of users.

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