Digital ethics. How young people understand it? 
Charlotte Lohmann, IYMC Krzyżowa

A youth exchange on the topic of digital ethics brought 30 young people from Olkusz and Gräfelfing together in virtual space! Between the almost 30 screens a common thinking space was created in which connections grew. During the 4 project days, the young people reflected on their own media behavior, analyzed the connection between needs and the use of social media and apps. They discussed and clearly named the anti-democratic tendencies on the Internet and learned about the concept of "counterspeech". Furthermore the students developed options for action that strengthen their digital citizenship! The project was concluded with projects that the young people developed in bilateral teams. One project is this article that we would like to share with you,

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Authors: Agnieszka Hrabia, Zuza Sosińska, Sonja Matuska

Digital ethics

We are currently taking part in an online-exchange between german and polish students where we talk about the topic of digital ethics. As we use social media nearly every day, this topic is incredibly important, especially for our generation. Therefore, we would like to raise attention to a few issues while
also giving advice on how to behave online.

1) Human rights and how they become violated online

Human rights are moral principles or norms of human behavior. They are protected by law to ensure that everyone can live a free life. The most known document where they are written down is the declaration of Human Rights:

Article 1- All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

This first article already provides the foundation for respectful human interaction. It shows that all humans have the same rights and have to be treated equally, no matter what gender, sexuality or skin color they have. Unfortunately, these rules are often violated by hate speech. Insulting someone is the opposite of treating them with dignity and making racist comments is the opposite of treating people equally. Unfortunately, people think that as they are anonymous online, their action doesn´t have a consequence. Which is why hate speech is more present in the internet than offline.

Our advice: Be a good example for others. You don’t have to share another person’s opinion as long as you stay respectful.

2) You may be wondering how to deal with hate comments.

A hate comment means expressing your opinion in a rude and disrespectful way. It often contains swearwords and it is used to purposefully hurt other people´s feelings. Nowadays hate comments are unfortunately found under many social media posts – especially when the person posting doesn´t fit into society´s standards. Receiving hate can cause insecurities and self-doubt, especially when it happens to a younger person. Therefore, we find it crucial to educate people on how to react. There are various ways to deal with the hate:

1. Answer with hate
This is not helping at all. You just feed the troll and react like he wanted you to.

2. Ignore the hate
This is not a good solution either, because the hate doesn´t disappear on its own and other people reading the comment might feel bad.

3. Report or block the hater
This is a good option to temporarily have the hate removed from the platform.

4. Use counter speech
Counterspeech means that you answer the hate by using logical arguments. This is the best way to deal with hate speech, because it discourages other potential haters and it shows support for the person who received the hate comment. This solution can decrease the hate long-term and therefore it´s also most effective.

Over all, it´s just important to stay calm when reading a hate comment – whether you received it or somebody else did. If you receive one, you shouldn´t take it personal. Just because one person disagrees with you it doesn´t mean you are a bad person. Don´t let your emotion control yourself, though take action. Of course, using counterspeech is the best option though it requires a lot of courage to speak up for yourself or others. At least report the person. Remember that you aren´t just doing it for yourself, but also for the silent readers that might feel attacked by the hate too.

3) Political posts on social media.

When writing political posts, staying respectful is even more necessary because they can easily insult people with other political views. You mustn´t mistreat or disrespect other people just because they don´t agree with you, especially in a political discussion. It is very important not to impose your opinion on others. However, we would recommend sharing articles and studies supporting your opinion so people can read them and decide for themselves whether they agree with it or not. This way you can politely convince others of your political view.

4) Copyright

Copyright is also very important. The number of people complaining that their pictures have been used for advertisement even though they never consented to it increases steadily. Though this also happens on a smaller scale, for example when you download a picture from the internet and repost it on your own social media account without giving credit to the original artist. This might seem harmless, but it actually is theft. People worked hard for these pictures and they want their work to be respected. Therefore, we can’t just steal things from the internet. We should ask the creator for their permission and if they say no, we have to respect their decision. 

It is crucial to remember that society´s rules are not only valid in real life but also online. This is often forgotten as in the digital word people can hide behind their screen. This makes them braver, which is not only good. It can also lead to more hate on social media. We all have the responsibility to be active and help stop discrimination on the internet. Just treat others the way you want to be treated. After all, you don´t want others to steal your work and you don´t want to be insulted, do you?


Agnieszka, Zuza, Sonja

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