Online hate – cultivated for too long by clickbait journalism

On Friday, Deutsche Telekom published a new TV spot for the #AgainstHassimNetz campaign, which is very emotionally dependent on the common sense of the majority. The wonderful message: “Let’s show the 5% who spread hate how loud the 95% can be.” It’s a refreshing twist on the many important campaigns tackling hate online because it takes a different approach: She’s not trying to reach those who continue to spread hate on the internet anyway, unimpressed by idiocy or orders.

It is much more about supporting all people who have become victims of hate on the Internet. A campaign, however great, cannot even get rid of the evil itself, but it can change the perspective: Few use the Internet for hate. It is up to the 95 percent who do not say so. Hate on the internet is not meant to be trivialized, but put into perspective: Just because hate is often multiplied, it does not mean that it is the opinion of the majority.

That Internet sentiment–including agitation and hate–even gets the big stage is also due to many online editors over the years, whose editors-in-chief have replaced journalistic claims with clickbait and provided thousands of aids to escalation. The hate on the internet has grown – far too many journalists have, when a collection of three or four meaningful tweets is enough to represent the “mood of the internet”.

What would just be journalistically irrelevant nonsense about harmless topics (“That’s what the network thinks about Klum’s new hairstyle”) can become very personal, as Helene Fischer, among others, has experienced often enough in addition to Klum. Also people of color or members of the LGBTIQ+ community. Of course, it’s not about hiding hate on the internet, but it often gets an unreasonable stage and is simply reproduced with the prospect of clicks, clicks, clicks and not put in relation.

Not only hatred of individuals is cultivated with pleasure. Even in the case of highly emotional political topics that tend to create atmosphere, any headline can be justified with random tweets or comments from a ridiculously small number of anonymous accounts: “This is what the internet is thinking” or “This is what Germany says” . Some editors seem to be stealing when, thanks to irrelevant tweets or Facebook comments, pointed headlines can also be written, which one does not allow themselves, but quotes with reference to anonymous users.

In the 1980s and 1990s, it was the street surveys that interns from newspapers, radio stations and television stations had to use to capture the mood of the pedestrian streets. Highly manipulative because the audience has no sense of whether the published opinions are representative. Such studies were therefore never taken seriously. But a handful of anonymous tweets are now representative? Are they good as an online headline next to hard news?

Of course there is a difference between evil and hatred. Even between the treatment of people with the media public and private, but sparse messages in the social media quickly blur the boundaries in favor of escalation. Much of this would actually go unheard, whether started by people with intellectual allergies or dedicated trolls. Many of these accounts on Twitter or Facebook have very few followers or friends. Therefore, the unreflective multiplication through media without any proportionality is what makes it fantastic.

The proportionality that the new Telekom campaign emphasizes: The idiots are in the minority, the majority is just often not high enough to be perceived as such. But just a few tweets from a largely anonymous minority have been the basis for many clickbait media outlets to create stories and moods for far too long. Media Germany therefore has a constant pulse and too often because it irresponsibly and unreflectively gives the hateful 5 percent more stage than the 95 percent.

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