I felt ashamed of my industry when I first saw how major companies had placed banner ads on racist and openly right wing websites That was two years ago when it had become abundantly clear in tradition al media and especially on social media that a new shift to the political right was occurring This change was hitting right in the center of society The articles and statements on Internet sites were becoming cruder and relying more heavily on stereotypes I was a manager at an advertising agency at the time and I was dismayed to see that many companies simply accepted this change or worse still were in denial that it was even happening Adver tising is always about perception and about traffic Different rules applied in the era of television Today anything that generates clicks generates cash And marginalization and racism definitely generate clicks That s why I started a hashtag on my person al Twitter account keingeldfür rechts or no money for the right My tweet and the hashtag went viral of online hate Until now there was almost nowhere victims of online hate could turn despite the fact that it is becoming an increasingly common occurrence There are very few legal options for combating online smear campaigns and protecting the victims And few of us know how to protect our online profiles how we should re spond if we become the target of an online hate campaign or what we need to consider That s where HateAid hopes to make a difference Our team of employees and consul tants is available to provide infor mation and legal support to anyone faced with a targeted hate campaign on the Internet Over the last two years I have often provided advice over the phone to people whose experienc es were similar to mine The goal of every online hate campaign is to discredit the victim Only in the rarest cases is an actual argument at the heart of the issue Today manufac tured hate has become a veritable tool for bullies People who gang up to intimidate others online to degrade others are silencing voices and taking away others right to speak out That is a danger to our democracy pretty quickly and sparked a con versation in the industry But in addition to the many brands now finally talking about the unregulated placement of their banner ads I immediately met with a lot of resis tance from the right Thousands of insulting messages and threats including death threats followed It was surreal Things take on a life of their own I couldn t find a police officer or a district attorney a lawyer or even a member of the state security services who felt they were capable of helping me quickly even when I showed them the worst messages I d received That was why my friends had to get involved They became my advisors and helped me through this difficult time But I came out of this whole experience thinking one thing enough is enough Being the victim of an online hate campaign tested my limits which in turn in spired an approach for tackling this problem the path to founding Fearless Democracy e V and the non profit platform HateAid which helps people who have been victims Manufactured hate has become a veritable tool for bullies Gerald Hensel found himself at the center of an online shitstorm after demanding via his hashtag keingeldfürrechts that no money should be spent on right wing websites Rather than giving up hope he launched HateAid a platform that supports victims of digital violence Standing up to Hate The organization By founding Fearless Democracy e V Hensel an advertising expert and political scien tist wanted to expose the structures of digital extremism to help the victims and to make society more resistant to populists With support from the Robert Bosch Stiftung Fearless Democracy launched its first project the platform HateAid which serves as a point of contact for people swept up in violent online controversies who are being terrorized in Internet hate campaigns The platform can be found at www hateaid org Snapshot 11THE MAGAZINE 1 19

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