The consequence is that everyone is unanimous in their criticism and the person/organization/institution has very little ability to respond, or add details to the conversation. One-sided means that the news is presented in a similar way an all place where the incident is mentioned.
The news itself is about the person/organization/institution not following a norm or being perceived as not following that norm. The result of the one-sided monitoring is unclear— it can lead to someone quitting or apologizing, or to an investigation. If a specific person is being attacked, they often experience stress and mental illness.
Advice Gather digital evidence
Document and save everything that can be used to investigate what has happened.
Advice Block and protect your social media
Media witch-hunts often affect individuals
Research done on various media witch-hunts in Sweden show that they often affect individuals and how they are not following the norm as opposed to discussing the politics, organization, or institutions that they represent. Studies show that media witch-hunts also affect women more detrimentally.
It is difficult to estimate if the other grounds of discrimination also have an effect on who is subjected to media witch-hunts because the research does not observe them from an intersectional perspective. Our qualified analysis within the Cyber Hate Assistant and an intersectional perspective on cyber hate leads us to understand that media witch-hunts affect women and other marginalized groups more seriously.
Advice Employers have investigative responsibility for your work that is online
If you experience mistreatment in your work, your employer always has investigative responsibility. File a report right away. Refer to the labor law. Support and help.
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.
Advice Report offensive posts and comments to administrators
If you read offensive and inappropriate posts or comments on social media, you can always report this to the administrators
Advice Remove comments
You can always remove other people's comments from your posts or pictures on social media. You can even remove or edit your own comments on other people's posts.
Advice Cyber hate as a result of membership in an organization or association, report!
As a member of an organization or an association, they have the responsibility for you and the cyber hate that can occur as a result of the membership. If they don't have action plans for the internet, they should deal with that right away.
Advice If you are not listened to
If you are not listened to, there are many special interest organizations that work specifically with the grounds of discrimination or minority perspectives. Move forward and seek support from these organizations, you are not alone! It's common that minority perspectives are not understood, this is called gaslighting.
Advice Schools have the responsibility to investigate, even on the internet!
Report directly to the school and contact your guardians. Even if they think it is bullying, it can be harassment according to the law. Make sure you get the right support and investigation.
The importance of source criticism and the dangers of one-sided reporting
When commentary journalism, like political commentators, presents a similar analysis or picture of an incident, they are also contributing to the media witch-hunt.
Social media and speculations often lead to stronger media witch-hunts, and eventually even threats and hate. If there is room for different analyses or news reports about the same incident, there is greater possibility of questioning the mechanisms of the media witch-hunt or scandal journalism.
Social media’s effect on media witch-hunts
Internet and social media make media witch-hunts easier. There is strong competition for our attention, and media witch-hunts create strong titles and headings that are proven to bring more traffic to the website. The Cyber Hate Assistant believes that it is always beneficial to try to get as nuanced of an idea of the chain of events as possible, and practice source criticism.
Are you being subjected to a media witch-hunt?
If you are being subjected to a media witch-hunt, it is important to have support from the people around you. Often, the truth is less important in the eye of the storm, but studies show that, in general, it is important to never answer in affect. Instead, be clear, objective, and transparent, and do not try to defend yourself.
Sometimes this feels impossible, and if you are subjected in your work role or depending on who you are representing, make sure that your organization backs you up.
You can always contact the Facebook group #jagärhär—they are good at moderating comment sections and giving support. Being subjected to a media witch-hunt can have serious consequences for an individual. That is why it is important to work preventatively by setting up structures to follow up with people who are subjected to media witch-hunts.
Counseling and recurring check-ups are a few suggestions on what following up can look like.
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 Take your mental health seriously
Put your mental health first. Sometimes, it can be important to take a break from social media accounts. Let someone else take care of or clear out your social media.
Advice In a media witch-hunt, avoid being defensive
The truth is unfortunately less important in a media witch-hunt.
Advice In a media witch-hunt, don't answer!
Do not answer in affect. Do not answer the person who is attacking you by attacking that person back. In situations of a media witch-hunt, this is particularly important because strong responses can intensify the witch-hunt.
Advice In a media witch-hunt, don’t play teacher
Use simple and clear language, trying to sound smarter than the hunter is not a good idea.
Advice In a media witch-hunt, be personal but do not play the victim
Media witch-hunts are built on a general idea that you have done something wrong. Looking for sympathy will often have the opposite effect.
Advice In a media witch-hunt, be transparent
Be transparent. Stick to clear, simple, and correct answers.
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.
Take responsibility for your presence on the internet
If you suspect that you have become a part of a media witch-hunt, we want to advise you to ask yourself these four questions, from the Institute for Media Studies:
- What is new in this story?
- What is the evidence?
- What are the sources?
- How safe are they?
- What do we still not know?