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Help me!

Digital Services Act: new rules for the internet

Insults, threats and sexual harassment: every second young woman is the target of digital violence on social media. Facebook, Twitter and online platforms alike have so far done too little to combat hate on their platforms.

With the new EU law, the Digital Services Act (DSA), the EU has ushered in a new era for the basic digital rights of users. Through a petition demanding better protection of women on social media and various actions run together with an alliance of international organisations, HateAid has critically contributed to the legislative process over the past year and given victims of digital violence a voice on the EU political stage.

Because it was sorely needed! HateAid welcomes the will of the EU to regulate the platforms more strongly than before. In July 2022, the new EU law is expected to be passed. For the major online platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, the law is then expected to come into force at the beginning of 2023. To ensure that we really are better protected from violence on social media platforms, it is essential that the new rules are enforced quickly and consistently.

HateAid will continue to watch very closely how social networks implement the new commitments.

If the measures fail to bear fruit, we will call on the EU to tighten up effective protection against digital violence.

Digital violence figures

During the last year, HateAid has critically accompanied the legislative process of the Digital Services Act in many talks with EU politicians, with an EU-wide petition and actions in Brussels. The goal: to make the voices of those affected by digital violence heard by the politicians in Brussels and to provide more protection against digital violence for everyone!

Boundless hate: dramatic situation across Europe

How many people in Europe are affected by digital violence? The results of our EU-wide survey from November 2021 are alarming:
% of Europeans aged 18 - 35 have already experienced digital violence.
% of women fear that intimate images of them could be published online without their consent.
% of women express their opinions online less often for fear of hate.
The secrets of online platforms

A New Era: Putting an End to the Black Box and Protecting Sensitive Data from Advertising

Whether fitness videos or staged content from Covid-19 deniers, the reasoning behind what posts get recommended or played on platforms such as YouTube or Facebook was previously a closely guarded secret. This is now history: large online platforms like YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook are now obligated by the DSA to disclose their recommendation system, known as algorithms, and other internal processes.

In order to create more transparency, researchers and civil society organizations such as HateAid can gain access to the platforms’ data. This will enable independent investigations that can shed light on, for example, how the platforms deal with illegal, radicalizing and discriminatory content, as well as disinformation.

Not just in times of war or election campaigns: This is an important achievement so that we can better analyze the dangers to our society posed by social media platforms. It will also give us more insight into how users get caught in filter bubbles and are bombarded with dangerous content such as conspiracy theories, disinformation and radicalization.

This newly achieved transparency is an important step. However, further political measures are also needed to change the toxic recommendation system of YouTube, Facebook and others for the better.

Online platforms must become more transparent in order to give affected users the chance to take action against hatred. Photo: Pexels / Shvets Production

Anna Lena von Hodenberg - Photo Andrea Heinsohn

Anna-Lena von Hodenberg, Photo: Andrea Heinsohn Photography

“Social networks have provided a platform for the mass spread of hate and agitation. With the Digital Services Act, we have for the first time an EU-wide law that attempts to stand up to Facebook, Twitter and Co. We will be watching very closely to see how the social networks implement the new obligations. For us, it’s clear: if the measures don’t bear fruit, we will demand that the EU tighten up on effective protection against digital violence.” 

Anna-Lena von Hodenberg, CEO at HateAid 

Das bringt das neue EU-Internetgesetz

What the new internet law means

What we support: 

All social media platforms now have to provide report functions!

The DSA will also mandate online platforms to introduce an internal complaint mechanism – one that users can complain through when a platform has made a wrong initial evaluation of the report.

Now users will have a right to a second assessment of the content by the platform, and when that is exhausted – users will be able to go to an out-of-court dispute settlement.

What is disappointing: 

Lawmakers decided to not include effective protection measures in the DSA concerning image-based sexual abuse on porn platforms.

Although this is a massive problem: researchers have found that one in eight titles on front pages of the most popular porn platforms is image-based abuse material. Perpetrators are very rarely identifiable to face any consequences.

This is why we are calling on the EU institutions: we now urgently need new EU legislation that closes this loophole. This is the only way to stop the mass distribution of image-based violence on porn platforms and to secure users' fundamental rights.

Our commitment for you

From Berlin to Brussels: we fought for your rights

With the petition Stop violence against women online! #makeitsafe”, HateAid brought the voices of thousands of EU citizens to Brussels and called for effective measures to protect against digital violence. Through the various actions run together with an alliance of international organisations, HateAid has critically contributed to the legislative process over the past year and given victims of digital violence a voice on the EU political stage. These efforts were supported by a broad coalition of national and international lawmakers, NGOs, activists, and public figures. 

The campaign “Stop violence against women online! #makeitsafe” as part of the Landecker Digital Justice Movement is an initiative of HateAid funded by the Alfred Landecker Foundation. 

Alfred Landecker Foundation

Our commitment to a better Digital Services Act (DSA) is realised through the financial support of the Alfred Landecker Foundation. 

Eine Flagge mit dem Logo von HateAid
Arbeit für den Digital Services Act: Josephine übergibt die HateAid-Petition an MEP Christel Schaldemose.

Handover of the HateAid petition with over 30,000 signatures in Brussels: Josephine Ballon, Head of Legal at HateAid & Christel Schaldemose, MEP.

“I am thrilled that so many have signed this petition. To me, it is a clear and strong signal that more needs to be done to ensure a safe and fair internet. It is time to put an end to the digital Wild West. We must empower users' rights, curb the spread of illegal content online, and give users more options to control what they see on the platforms. I believe that we share many of the same goals, and I hope that we can reclaim control from the tech giants.”

MdEP Christel Schaldemose


This is how we advocated for a better DSA 

The kick-off
The European Commission presents the first draft of the Digital Services Act. The legislative process starts. The European Parliament and the member states can introduce amendments.
15 December
We make a difference
We draft proposals for the legislative text, get in touch with policymakers, promote our demands and bring in the perspective of victims of digital violence. 
22 June
Launch of our first international petition
All over Europe we see that people are sick of online violence. We launch an international petition to make sure that these voices are heard by the EU. 


12 October
We are protesting
We are serious: we show this with a protest action directly in front of the European Parliament. On this day, the EU policymakers will not be able to ignore us.  
08 November
We take your 30,000 votes to the EU
We hand over the petition with your 30,000 votes to the lead negotiator of the European Parliament, MEP Christel Schaldemose. 
31 January
Don't look away, Mr Digital Minister Wissing!
We protest! This time in front of the Federal Chancellery in Berlin. We demand from Digital Minister Wissing and State Secretary Kluckert: stand up for the rights of victims of digital violence in the EU. 
08 March
We give everything!
We gather in front of the building in Brussels where EU policymakers will meet for the final negotiations on the DSA. Our demand: stop digital violence! 


22 April
We have a new EU internet law!
A huge success: more transparency and better complaint mechanisms for victims of digital violence. Our commitment in Brussels has paid off! 


05 July
DSA topics in the online magazine

Here you will find current articles, interviews and analyses about the DSA: