Facts Hate speech

Hate speech is a hate crime. Hate speech is when someone expresses themselves or spreads messages that show contempt or threats toward a group because of ethnicity, belief, or sexual orientation.

Contempt means prejudiced, threatening, or mean statements about an ethnic group or a group of people alluding to race, skin tone, ethnic background, belief or sexual orientation. 

The message can be an image, a gesture/hand movement, a status update, a comment, or a piece of information that is spread on the internet. It is a serious crime and should be reported to the police.

Advice Never answer in affect!

Never answer in affect. Don't answer the person who is attacking you by attacking them back. Just ask them to stop. A lot of the time you don't want to answer at all, which is more than understandable. But to file a police report, it can be important that you can prove that you asked the person to stop, even when it comes to sexual harassment.

Advice Gather digital evidence

Document and save everything that can be used to investigate what has happened.

Guide: Gather digital evidence 

Advice Contact administrator(s) about cyber hate!

If you're exposed to cyber hate, always contact the administrator. They have the responsibility for removing things that violate their rules.

Advice Offer to be a witness of a crime on the internet!

Contact Victim Support Sweden, they help witnesses, relatives and victims. If you are unsure whether it is a crime, and the Cyber Hate Assistant can't support you in this, Victim Support Sweden can answer these types of questions.

Contact Victim Support Sweden. 

What does spread on the internet mean?

Everything that is written on social media is spread on the internet, regardless of whether it is in a secret group with twenty members or on someone’s private Facebook page. The amount of people who have read something is not important, but rather how many people have been able to read it. Normally, this is more than a few people, and this has been interpreted as being more than 8-10 people in different trials.

In practice

An example: saying that you hate everyone in an ethnic, religious, or LGBTQ group is not hate speech. It is xenophobic or homophobic, but it is not a crime. To be critical of immigration or LGBTQ issues is normally not a crime either. Saying that you hate immigration or LGBTQ groups because they are idiots is hate speech. This is not fact-based criticism.

Profanity that is racist or anti-LGBTQ is not automatically hate speech. It has to be in combination with threats or further expressions of contempt.

Criticizing a religion is not a crime in Sweden, but to degrade people who practice religion is hate speech. Having a swastika as your profile picture or posting swastikas in a thread that is about immigration is hate speech. 

Threats are much more serious — and targeting them at an ethnic, religious, or LGBTQ group is hate speech. In this kind of crime, there is almost always intent. It was not an “accident” that the person wrote what they wrote. 

What can you do?

The thing that is unique about hate speech is that everyone can report such crimes. Other types of hate crimes must be reported by the person who is subjected to them. 

If you see someone committing hate speech on the internet, in a comment, a status update, in a private group, etc., and you are not a part of the group that is covered by hate crime legislation, you can still report the crime!

Often times it is considerably more psychologically stressful to be a part of the protected group and always have to stand up for you own rights. Be a good ally and report hate speech when you see it happen on the internet!

Guide Report hate speech.

Advice Report hate speech

If you see cyber hate happening and it falls into the category of hate speech it means you can report the crime, whether you belong to the group being exposed or not. Crimes with hate crime motives need to be reported by the the person who is subjected to them but anyone can report hate speech. So if you see someone committing hate speech on the internet, in a comment, a status update, in a private group, etc., and you are not a part of the group that is covered by hate crime legislation, you can still report the crime!

What is hate speech?

Guide: Report hate speech

Advice Ask for help to deal with cyber hate!

You're not alone. If you want help dealing with cyber hate in the comment section, contact the facebook group #jagärhär to get help and support from the good forces at work for a good and open internet climate.

#jagärhär's facebook page 

Advice You are not alone, get support!

Get help from the people around you. You do not have to be alone in this. Cyber hate falls within the responsibility of the employer, school, association or organization.

Support and help.

Advice File a police report!

File a police report, even if it does not lead to a charge, it’s important to report so that statistics can show that the internet is for real.

File a police report


Swedish Police, DO, Cyber Hate Examiner (Näthatsgranskaren)