NJ Division on Civil Rights
Adapted and reprinted with permission from Right to Be, https://righttobe.org/guides/bystander-intervention-training.
The findings and strategies that follow are from the Brookings Institution study, “Bystander Intervention on Social Media” (https://bit.ly/Intervention_Social_Media).
1. SPEAK OUT WHEN POSSIBLE
- Of the over two million social media posts involving bias that were analyzed, about 17 percent of the Twitter conversations and less than 40 percent of the Reddit discussions included bystander behavior.
- The researchers noted: “Silence and inaction do nothing but cause biased perpetrator behaviors to proliferate as [the perpetrators] feel unquestioned.”
2. ACT IN RESPONSE TO EXTREME EXPRESSIONS OF BIAS AND HATE
- Report the incident immediately to the platform/content provider and/or the appropriate authorities.
- Take a screen shot of the objectionable content for evidence.
- Block, filter, or remove the content if possible.
- Always refuse to share the content with others.
3. USE PROSOCIAL METHODS TO ADDRESS BIAS
- Online, people generally use four types of bystander intervention strategies:
– Call-outs (directly naming the offending user as racist or ignorant)
– Insults or mocking
– Attempts to educate or provide evidence
– Content moderation (such as blocking, filtering, and removing content)
- The prosocial methods (“attempts to educate or provide evidence” and “content moderation”) were found to be most effective. The antisocial methods (“call-outs” and “insults or mocking”) failed to minimize hostility amongst users. This research tells us that we should refrain from negative responses and focus on positive, educational responses, if we respond at all.
- The researchers concluded: “When bystanders step in and help to make aggressions visible, disarm the situation, educate the perpetrator, and seek external reinforcement or support, these approaches provide crucial support in preventing some of the most detrimental effects [of online bias and hate].”