Hate Speech and the Incitement to Antifeminism on the Internet

Online hate speech is a pressing and growing problem of deep concern. Hate speech, discriminatory messages, and threats spread online create a hostile environment and promote racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of hatred (Paz et al., 2020). In recent years, the internet has become more than just an avenue for the discussion of various social and political issues but also a platform for hate speech and incitement to antifeminism. This phenomenon is becoming increasingly common in the online environment. Notably, antifeminism is the opposition to feminist ideas and movements aimed at achieving gender equality. This opposition can manifest itself in the form of statements, discriminatory remarks, insults, and threats against women, women’s rights activists, or feminist organizations (Lewis et al., 2017). The internet, being an accessible platform for mass communication, provides an opportunity for anti-social elements to disseminate their ideas and views with minimal restrictions. This creates an environment where hate speech and antifeminism can spread widely and have negative consequences, including increasing bias, creating a hostile atmosphere, and leading to acts of violence. The internet is becoming the subject of increasing debates and examination by researchers, activists, and government agencies. Developing effective strategies to combat the above-mentioned phenomena is an important task to ensure safety and equality in the online environment. Discussing the problems of hate speech and the incitement to antifeminism on the internet based on the practical example of the Facebook platform will allow determining the importance of taking active measures to combat organized online hatred.

Hate Speech

Hate speech is a conscious and intentional public statement and the form of expression aimed at promoting hatred, discrimination, and violence against certain groups of people or individuals. This practice may include insults, threats, ridicules, and harassment based on characteristics such as race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, and others (Paz et al., 2020). The use of hate speech can have serious consequences, such as reinforcing bias, undermining social solidarity, and encouraging violence and discrimination. However, the greatest challenge in identifying hate speech on the internet is that it is frequently hidden under different forms of expression and can be difficult to detect automatically. It usually manifests itself in the media in the form of hateful comments and publications, the dissemination and support of various hate ideologies, stereotypes and bias, the manipulation of facts, and disinformation. In addition, hate speech can manifest itself verbally, nonverbally, and symbolically, and is frequently ambiguous and metaphorical (Paz et al., 2020). Given this complexity and the diversity of hate speech forms, identifying acts of hate online is challenging. Detecting hate requires understanding the context and intent behind a statement. In other words, it is possible to perceive the same expression differently in different situations and cultural contexts. Some speech may be ambiguous or have ambiguous meaning, making it difficult to classify it as hateful. Either way, hate speech on the internet represents a significant form of harmful behavior and is one of the major contemporary issues of concern.

Hate Speech Versus Antifeminism

According to Park et al. (2023), since 2010, the problem of inciting to hatred on the internet against foreigners, the LGBTQ community, and women has become especially noticeable. In particular, women have become frequent targets of online hate due to a number of factors, including the ability by anonymous users to air their negative views without the fear of punishment or consequences. At the same time, women are frequently targets of online hate because of their gender identity, as well as their involvement in the fight for equal rights and against gender-based violence (Lewis et al., 2017). This type of online violence directed at female celebrities and activists involved in feminist debates is attracting attention and raising concerns in society and among researchers. Examples such as the case of the activist Caroline Criado-Perez, who suffered extensive abuse after calling for featuring women on banknotes, demonstrate that even relatively small actions online can lead to serious consequences for women, including fear, anxiety, and even physical danger (Lewis et al., 2017). Moreover, these cases highlight the need for social platforms, law enforcement, and the public to develop and implement better strategies aimed at strengthening protection from online hatred and antifeminism. Taking action to stop online violence and supporting the victims of such attacks are increasingly important to ensure a safe and inclusive online environment.

Spreading Hate Speech Online

Nowadays, the internet has become a widespread means of communication, leading to an increase in user activity, including those who express negative views and prejudices. In turn, social media and other online platforms have become forums for the spread of hatred and discrimination against women, and their wide audience makes such platforms attractive to those who want to spread their negative views. Digital platform algorithms used to personalize content and optimize user experience facilitate these practices, frequently taking engagement and reactions to certain content for granted, regardless of its nature (Park et al., 2023). Thus, digital platform algorithms, although designed to improve user experience, may inadvertently increase the visibility of negative content, including hate speech. This in turn can lead to a further exacerbation of the problem, increasing the impact of hateful content on public opinion and facilitating its spread. However, Cherici (2021) regards the problem within a broader historical context by arguing that hate speech is not an issue unique to the social media era but rather is a historical global phenomenon amplified by modern communications technologies, considering that it is possible to trace the manifestation of various forms of hate speech from the very beginning of human history. At the same time, with the development of technology, especially with the advent of the internet and social networks, the phenomenon of hate speech has acquired new dimensions and forms. Modern communication tools and platforms allow people to quickly and widely disseminate their views and ideas online. Thus, although hate speech has its roots in human history, the internet poses new challenges in combating this problem, requiring the joint efforts of society, government agencies, and online platforms to overcome it.

Moreover, hate speech on the internet poses a serious threat frequently opposing the principle of freedom of speech. Although freedom of speech is a fundamental right protected in many countries, it is not absolute and must be subject to laws that protect people against discrimination, libel, violence, and other forms of harmful behavior (Park et al., 2023). Consequently, the fact that hate speech on the internet aims at inciting hatred indicates that users frequently exceed the boundaries of freedom of speech. Notably, this principle does not mean impunity for the use of hate speech. It is vital to design laws and policies to balance freedom of expression with protection from hateful and harmful content (Park et al., 2023). At the same time, it is necessary to consider the context, intention, and potential consequences of statements made online (Paz et al., 2020). In addition, the value of freedom of speech lies not only in the right to express one’s own views but also in the right to receive information and access to a diversity of points of view. However, this should not mean the tolerance of hate speech and its normalization in the online space. Moreover, given that the online space has become a platform for a wide range of forms of violence and discrimination, which are mainly directed against women, Lewis et al. (2017) argue that the frequently gendered nature of online abuse poses a serious threat to their “digital citizenship,” violating the rights and freedoms of women. Digital harassment, threats, online trolling, the non-consensual sharing of personal information, and other forms of aggression create an atmosphere of fear and threat, limit women’s freedom of expression and participation online and in political environments, and impede their professional and social development (Lewis et al., 2017). Combating this problem requires a comprehensive approach, including stronger legislation, education and public awareness, improved content moderation on digital platforms, and increased accountability for online activities.

Case Study

Addressing the issues of online hate speech and antifeminism poses a number of challenges for social networking platforms. These challenges include the scale of the problem of hate speech due to the sheer volume of content, the algorithmic difficulty of detecting and blocking hateful content, the lack of transparency in content moderation policies, political and legal restrictions, and the need to balance freedom of speech with user safety. An example of such a platform is Facebook, whose failure to adequately respond to calls to address organized hate directed at ethnic, religious, and gender minorities has generated significant criticism and concerns from various stakeholders. Despite repeated demands for action and some efforts and regulatory responses to harmful content, the platform still frequently faces criticism for its slow or insufficient response to the spread of hate speech and discriminatory content targeting marginalized communities or women (Sinpeng et al., 2021). The lack of robust measures to combat organized hate has allowed extremist groups and individuals to use the Facebook platform to spread messages of violence, intolerance, and discrimination. Critics argue that Facebook’s failure to effectively combat organized hate undermines its responsibility as a global social media platform with billions of users. Moreover, Facebook’s example highlights broader concerns about the platform’s commitment to protecting human rights, promoting inclusion, and combating extremism and discrimination (Sinpeng et al., 2021). Thus, combating online hate speech, especially against women, remains a major challenge for Facebook and other social media platforms, requiring continued efforts and innovations in content moderation and user protection.

Addressing the Problem of Hate Speech and Antifeminism on the Internet

It is obvious that solving the problem requires a combined effort on the part of online platforms, government agencies, public organizations, and users. According to Cherici (2021), it is possible to effectively combat hate speech and antifeminist incitement on the internet through various defense mechanisms. The society is developing and implementing a range of strategies, including identification tools, whistleblower programs, and proactive countermeasures, although better remedies could be to establish abuse detection and reporting systems and implement protection schemes for at-risk groups. Specifically, some potential efforts include the development and application of innovative technologies, automated monitoring systems, and effective mechanisms for responding to hate speech (Cherici, 2021). Moreover, as the case has shown, platforms such as Facebook should take proactive measures to combat organized hate. In particular, successfully combating online hate speech and antifeminist incitement requires improving content moderation policies and enforcement mechanisms, investing in advanced technologies for detecting and eliminating hate speech, collaborating with civil society organizations and experts, and developing a culture of accountability and transparency within an online company (Sinpeng et al., 2021). Additionally, it is important to educate users about the awareness and recognition of hate speech and to create supportive environments and communities for those exposed to it (Sinpeng et al., 2021). Without decisive actions, Facebook and other online platforms risk further exacerbating social tensions and perpetuating harm to vulnerable groups, such as women. However, only through the joint efforts and coordination of various stakeholders, it is possible to make meaningful progress in overcoming this serious problem.


Hate speech and incitement to express antifeminism online are serious and growing problems. The spread of hate, discriminatory messages, and threats online creates a hostile environment and supports racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of hatred, including anti-feminism. Women are increasingly suffering from online attacks, and the internet has become an accessible platform for the dissemination of antisocial views and ideas with minimal restrictions. As the case of Facebook shows, despite the adoption of various measures to overcome the problem, the efforts of such platforms remain insufficient, highlighting the need to develop effective strategies to address these issues to ensure safety and equality in the online environment. The example of the Facebook platform is a vivid illustration of the importance of taking proactive measures to counter organized online hate against women. Such measures should include improving algorithms and content moderation, increasing platform transparency and accountability, and training users to be aware of and recognize negative speech. Only through the joint efforts of all stakeholders, it is possible to ensure a safe online environment for all users.

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