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2020/Polish Group About Digital Security

Interview of the Polish Group after the Training Course in Berlin "Staying safe online, youth workers and digital security" in 2020


According to your opinion, what drives online hate speech?

Since the introduction of the Internet, anonymity has become much more easier to achieve and with that people have become more bold with the way they express their opinions. People on the Internet tend to use hate speech phrases, swears and threats much more freely than they would in real life in similar situations. The distance between the person who offends and the person being offended is bigger than ever before. The one using hate speech is no longer a witness of the effects his/her words have on the person on the other side. That let's people forget their morals and use hate speech against both private persons and public figures that have done absolutely nothing to deserve this kind of treatment. The ones that partake in online violence often forget that what they’re doing is exactly that: violence. In my opinion this is all unacceptable and should be considered a hate crime. Anonymity and distance are not an excuse to say things that could potentially cause harm to a person's mental state and measures should be taken to teach people about netiquette and being moral not only in real life, but also online.

What is the role of youth organizations/NGOs in the prevention of "online violence"?

NGOs can make an immense impact on the prevention of hate speech with their activities. First of all, they can gather statistics about the experiences of hate speech victims and send the results to the government as to help raise awareness of the dangers within the political circles. This is something very basic, but also something that could be of huge importance to the development of measures against hate crime. Another thing NGOs can do is work together with schools and universities (and maybe even private companies) to hold presentations on hold to stay safe online and educate the people on what they can do to minimize online violence and how to react in cases, where the situation escalates to something worse. Furthermore, NGOs have a big presence on social media, so they can spread information and raise awareness through targeted posts to generation Z/millenials (the age groups that are most likely to become victims of and/or use online violence). Beyond posts on social media, NGOs can produce informational videos or short documentary films that can be uploaded to platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, Twitch, etc. Those are just a few of ways NGOs can help raise awareness and have proven to be quite effective in the past.

What can we do to ensure digital security of young people? What are your tips for staying safe online?

There is no one way to keep your information safe online. Even if you don't use the Internet, there is a chance that some of your private information or pictures might find their way onto the web. But keeping that in mind, we should always try our best to keep our privacy & security intact and there are several ways to do that:

  • Use a strong password (This category includes: using a different password for every account you have, not writing down your passwords on your phone notes/paper notes, changing your password every couple of months)

  • Use a VPN (to evade being tracked)

  • Use AdBlock (to evade pop-ups that may lead to harmful websites)

  • Always use websites that are secure

  • Use an antivirus program

  • Don't click on links in emails from senders that you don't recognize

  • Don't add strangers on social media

  • Always update your software (Older versions of the software often stop being supported and as a result become easier targets for hackers)

  • Never use random unlocked public Wi-Fi

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