Do snide remarks on social media amount to discrimination?

Freedom of expression also applies to the Internet and social media. On Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram the same rules and regulations apply as in other parts of society. Basically, you can say or show (almost) anything, and you do not need anyone’s permission to do so.

But beware: you may not discriminate against others on the internet or on social media either. A hateful remark about an entire population group or about someone's background, skin colour, or religion can be considered offensive and discriminatory. And everyone - you, I, we - also has the right not to be discriminated against. 

Moreover, you should be aware that Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram function as magnifying glasses where freedom of speech is concerned. Anything you say or show there can spread rapidly - sometimes even across the world - and appear out of context.

Unfortunately, bullying (harassing someone) and discrimination (for example, insulting or threatening groups of people) are all too common on the internet and social media. They are forbidden and sometimes even punishable by law – people bully and discriminate anyway. 

In many countries, you can file a report if you encounter discrimination on one of the social-media platforms, either with an anti-discrimination hotline or with the police. In the Netherlands, people have been convicted for posting hateful and discriminatory remarks on Twitter or Facebook.

Also very important: react! You too can make yourself heard if you think that someone is going too far. Raise your voice when you read or see something like that on someone's Facebook page or Instagram account.

Thanks to the freedom of speech, everyone is allowed to say a lot, but this freedom is something that should be handled with care.