'We know first hand the damage caused by hate speech online' - Stop Hate UK chief executive Rose Simkins

The damage caused by abusive online comments is being seen on a daily basis by a Leeds-based charity working to challenge hate speech.

Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 5:13 pm

Here, Stop Hate UK chief executive Rose Simkins explains why she welcomes the YEP’s Call It Out campaign.

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Rose writes: “At Stop Hate UK, we know first hand the damage caused by comments and hate speech online. We hear and see it every day and we know people whose lives are affected by malicious and sometimes vicious comments.

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The Yorkshire Evening Post's Call It Out campaign is asking our readers to help play their part in making social media a better place for everyone.

“Sadly, there are people who deliberately set out to cause harm, but there are also those who may not be aware of how their comments hurt others.

“Sometimes, a throwaway, thoughtless comment from one person feeds in to the vitriol of another and the damage grows. We know that these comments can even lead to attacks on the streets and in our neighbourhoods.

“Stop Hate UK has called upon people to be more thoughtful when they are posting, to stop and think for a minute, asking themselves one simple question: ‘Would I say this to someone’s face?’ If the answer is no, then it should not be written. For those who are unsure or decide to post their comment regardless, they need to think about whether, by writing those words, they might actually be committing a criminal offence. At the very least, they risk being blocked and removed from social media platforms.

“Stop Hate UK encourages people to report any activity that they believe is likely to be offensive or harmful, or inspired by hate, to social media platforms or websites. However, before doing this, we recommend also taking a screenshot or a picture as this might be vital evidence should the post be deleted by the perpetrator. As well as reporting to the provider you can, of course, report any form of hate crime to us too.

Stop Hate UK chief executive Rose Simkins is supporting the Yorkshire Evening Post's Call It Out campaign. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

“Here in West Yorkshire, you can download our hate crime reporting app and use it to report any hate incidents or potential hate crimes that you see online or maybe in the street or your neighbourhood. It’s easy to use and features details of local resources. You can also report anonymously.

“Online hate has escalated massively since the dawn of the social media era and, to a certain extent, has changed the hate crime landscape. However Stop Hate UK, which marks 25 years of tackling hate crime in 2020, has recognised this change. We are now one of the country’s leading organisations and respected voices in tackling online hate.

“Visit our website – www.stophateuk.org – or find us on social media platforms to find out how we can fight hate and discrimination together.”

The Yorkshire Evening Post's Call It Out campaign is sharing real life experiences of abusive online behaviour and asking our readers to help play their part in reporting it to account admins, social media platforms and, where needed, the police.

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Thank you,

Laura Collins