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What is online hate crime?

Hate crime can take many forms, from physical attacks, threats, harassment or intimidation to criminal damage. There is lots of evidence of online hate crime too, where social media in particular is used to inflict abuse on others. It is sometimes less clear that you’ve experienced a hate crime online as it can be confused with offensive material or bullying – like when people make prejudiced comments or offensive jokes.

What is a hate crime? A hate crime is any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s actual or perceived: race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, transgender identity or gender.

Here are some top tips on how identify and deal with hate crime online -


Offer Support.


Notice - It’s important to notice when something is illegal and recognise the difference from offensive content.

  • It is offensive or illegal? Whilst you may come across content on the internet which may offend you, it may not actually be illegal.
  • So, what is illegal? Content on the internet can be illegal when it threatens or harasses a person or group of people. If it is posted because of hostility based on race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, transgender or gender then we consider it to be a hate crime.
  • If you think you may have been an offender, take steps to rectify the situation. Think, delete, say sorry and learn.

Offer support - If you think someone has been a victim of hate crime online here are a few tips on how to offer support.

  • Like supportive comments to show solidarity.
  • “I just read a post sent to you that was really wrong. Are you okay?” Privately message the victim to show your support.
  • If the victim is your friend, suggest taking a break from social media and do something offline together to take their mind off it.
  • Well that escalated quickly… Defuse the situation using humour. A well placed gif can halt a hateful thread and a meme can prevent things getting out of hand.

Tell - There are several options for reporting hate crimes or hate incidents online.

  • Report it to the website administrator. Most websites do not allow comments, videos and photos that offend or hurt people and popular websites such as Facebook, YouTube or BBC News have simple ways for you to complain about a page or video, otherwise, look out for their ‘contact us’ page or ‘report this page’ button.
  • If the content is illegal or if you have been a victim of a hate crime, report it to the police using the True Vision website

How to report a hate crime to the police. Anyone with information about a hate crime is asked to report it either by calling 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency or in person at a police station.
If you feel you can speak to us, we would prefer to speak to you on the phone or in person, however if contacting us online is the safest way for you to get in touch, you can complete our online reporting form. If you don’t want to contact us directly please use an independent agency or report it online at