Discrimination, xenophobia & internet

Discrimination, xenophobia & internet

Discrimination refers to the unfair or unequal treatment towards an individual or a group based on certain characteristics such as age, disability, ethnicity, gender, marital status, national origin, race, religion and sexual orientation. When talking about discrimination on the internet, this term went even further, including novel ways of discrimination, and increasing the reach out of it, such as cyber-bullying, harassment, among others.

Our goals are to:

  • To fight against prejudices and stereotypes using online educational methods
  • To raise the awareness about human rights and dignity
  • To create new, innovative methods to address the issues of discrimination and tolerance

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What is not in doubt is that the internet facilitates communication in many respects. Information, including music, graphics, and video, is easily posted and retrieved from the net. Audiovisual two-way communication on the internet is possible, e-mail and chatrooms allow for free and real-time communication without borders. To the extent that communication builds bridges and breaks down barriers, one would expect the internet to be a bias-reducing force. That, of course, depends on the type of information being shared and the nature of the interactions.

The nature of internet-based interactions is crucial to the understanding of prejudice and discrimination on the internet. These interactions have often been mostly text-based, and often they lack much of the information conveyed in traditional, face-to-face, or even audio-only communication, such as tone, volume, gesture, facial expression as well as communicator characteristics such as age, size, gender, race/ethnicity, or physical stigma. When they include visual/video elements there are many instances where these information is misinterpreted, abused or used as way of “shaming” and discriminating based of physical traits, ethnicity or some other aspect. This state of affairs leads us to make some interesting projections about prejudice and discrimination in cyberspace. Some of these projections are informed by classical research on prejudice and discrimination, but diverge meaningfully because of historical changes and the unique qualities of the web and the nature of computer-mediated social interaction, and they more often lead to biased and prejudiced and discriminatory actions.

Intolerance is an act of refusing to accept ideas, beliefs or behaviors that are different from your own. We live in a very diverse world, and internet is joining together people from different cultural backgrounds. Due to the cultural differences and the rise of radicalism, which is the product of recent economic and migrant crisis, there is a huge increase of intolerant behavior on the internet. The best way to reduce this kind of behavior is through education in equality and rising awareness about the intercultural benefits those differences have.

The internet is seen as an indispensable tool for exercising human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress. The main advantages of using internet are among others: Immediate communication, worldwide reach, relative anonymity and low cost of use. Despite these obvious benefits there are various challenges, such as internet censorship in some parts of the world, cyber-bullying, discrimination and harassment, diminished freedom of expression in many cases and the recent phenomenon of fake news.


Methods of HRE for the virtual life of young people will be added further as a contribution of those who work on fighting for human rights in the virtual world and believe that human rights online need to be equally respected as human rights in the real world.

If you want to provide your experience and expertise in the fields of human rights and non-formal education and help us develop joint HUB of HRE for the virtual world, go to our CONTRIBUTE section.