FACTS: What motivates us to support each other online?

Online hurtful behavior such as sending racist messages, making fun of someone, or excluding them happens a lot (Dutch Media Literacy Network in 2022). Many people know what to do when they see someone being hurt online, but they don't often take action. Why is this happening? And when do people stand up for each other online?

Researchers Esther Rozendaal and Chiara de Jong from the Movez Lab studied this in collaboration with the Dutch Media Literacy Network and the Nationale Wetenschaps Agenda. They asked people their opinions on certain types of hurtful online behavior and what they would do in those situations. They also observed a theater performance for young people about online hurtful behavior. Esther and Chiara found some interesting things - read on to get the answers!

You are less likely to stand up for someone online if...

  1. you are afraid of becoming a victim yourself when you do.
  2. you believe that everyone should be able to say what they want and you feel you shouldn't interfere.
  3. you think that whatever you do doesn't really matter because you can't make a difference.
  4. other people you know don't stand up for others online either.
  5. you don't think the situation is serious enough.

Fortunately, there are also situations where people are more likely to stand up for someone online. You are more likely to stand up for others online if...

  1. you are used to standing up for others and it makes you feel good.
  2. other people you know also do it.
  3. the website/app makes it easy to do.
  4. you are someone who empathizes with others a lot.
  5. you think the situation is really not okay and disrespectful.
  6. you know the person being hurt online well.

Now we know when people do and don't stand up for others who are hurt online. Think about whether you've ever seen someone being hurt online and what you have done in that situation. Why did you do that? Would you act differently now? Remember, we can only make the internet a little friendlier if we work together and stand up for one another!

If you want to learn more about what you can do to help others online, read our tips or watch the videos of the video project 'Act or React', you can also do this project together with your class:

Act or React videos from Netwerk Mediawijsheid (only Dutch)