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Why is there hate speech content out there?


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Remind participants about how our experiences, learning and role models around us build up stereotypes and prejudices in our own minds about ourselves and others.

Identifying prejudices and feelings in ourselves allows us to better examine the feelings and motives of others; the Media analysis unit provided opportunities to identifying the motives behind online hate speech and the feelings they intended to elicit.

The Media production unit provided an opportunity for young people to try and create their own charity video, provoking an emotional response in the viewer.
This Citizenship unit aims to support young people to challenge stereotypes or prejudice in the media by lobbying the media outlet provider.

Prompt Questions

These questions are provided as examples to initiate and guide discussions around the topic in this focus area.

  • What categories of media outlets are there?
  • What media outlets/providers do you know?
  • What types of stereotypes or prejudices exist in the media? (You can use this website as an example.)
  • Have you seen any negative stereotypes or prejudice used in any of these providers?
  • What can you do in order to reduce this behaviour?

Main Activity

The SELMA project short definition of hate speech is:

“Any online content targeting someone based on protected characteristics with the intent or likely effect of inciting, spreading or promoting hatred or other forms of discrimination.”

Do media outlets use stereotypes in their content?

Using the provided slides, lead the group of learners to discover the stereotypical language and casting used in the media. Help them by providing up-to-date and current topics from your local/national press that further exemplify how stereotypical viewpoints are used in the media.

Call to action

Share the following suggestions with the group for how to tackle hate speech content they may stumble upon online:

  • Promote positivity - When you see positive online content about a protected characteristic, amplify this by sharing. You could agree a hashtag in your group and share the content using this hashtag. Build a collection of positive messages and bring back to the group after an agreed period.
  • Stop stereotypes - If you see content that promotes or spreads stereotypical views about a protected characteristic don’t share or like it. If it’s particularly hurtful, you might like to post a reply with #stopspreadinghate and nothing else.

Discuss how they can make this small change and the appropriate place to do so. Be sure to highlight that when they start #HackingHate that they should stick to the people, places and spaces where they know the community well. Avoid making public statements about #HackingHate until they have become more familiar with the process and the response people give. It’s important that they understand that they need to keep themselves safe as well as highlighting the good and bad things they may see online.

Multi-channel opportunities

What is great about this particular call to action is that it can be applied across multiple platforms. Your learners can use hashtags in any network they are a part of: Snapchat, Instagram, gaming communities, comments on newspaper articles...it doesn’t matter where they post the hashtag, or collect the content from.

Depending on their approach, you could ask the learners to compile a dossier of evidence and bring this to the group for discussion. This could be a good opportunity for the learner to assess how well they are identifying hate speech comments. The discussion of the conversation around the post, or the background to the issue will also help the learners to understand the political or societal issues behind the hate speech.


Using one of the identified topics, or news articles from your local/national press, challenge your learner to produce a letter or email to the media company promoting this content or producing the show. In the case of news media, the letter/email may be best targeted towards companies whose adverts appear in the publication or alongside provocative headlines, trying to convince them to not advertise in publications where prejudiced or hateful content may appear.

Explain that you don’t expect them to send the email or letter at this stage, but to use the real-life experience to help form their argument.

Some learners may strongly express a desire to send their letter/email. Encourage them to do so only if, in your professional judgement, they are emotionally resilient enough to do so and only once you have reviewed and helped them refine their letter/email.

You may find the information on https://stopfundinghate.info helpful in guiding your learners in the development of their letter/email.

Outcome Criteria

  • Understand the issues of media portrayal of those with protected characteristics.
  • Use clear persuasive writing skills to create a clear and impactful letter/email to a company complaining about the stereotypical portraits in their outlet.


Understand the issues of media portrayal of those with protected characteristics. Use clear persuasive writing skills to create a clear and impactful letter/email to a company complaining about the stereotypical portraits in their outlet.


Do media outlets use stereotypes in their content?

Analysing and challenging media portrayal of protected characteristics.