C. Victim VS Perpetrator & the plus one(s)

Who would doubt that it takes two to tango? And certainly hate speech online is no exception to that. Victims and perpetrators are both (voluntarily or not) involved in an interaction that might have serious consequences, for sure though results in significant short- and long-term impact in their lives and the lives of others. Along the way though, different kinds of “guests” might join this tango dance, playing an equally important role in the process: THE WITNESSES.

Are these actors equal? Do they share any similarities? Is it maybe easy to recognize them? And (how) can they be interlinked?

Let’s try to draw their profiles and explore their main characteristics and their most common forms of behavior.



Who are they?

  • usually belonging to a majority group
  • often influencing a large portion of people (for example number of followers/audience/wide public)
  • usually belonging to a minority: vulnerable, marginalized or disadvantaged group

What are their habits?

  • hiding behind anonymity
  • being triggered by the suffering/disturbance of their hate target

Why are they in this position?

  • often targets of hate speech in real-life
  • lacking peer support
  • ignorance on support mechanisms

Why are they in this position?

  • insecurity
  • need to feel powerful/strong/accepted
  • revenge/hatred/anger/suppressed emotions (that are often not related to their victims)
  • unable to defend themselves
  • loneliness/embarrassment/low self-esteem


How do they behave?

Profile No 1


  • concrete actions/reactions
  • direct/indirect support to victims
  • direct/indirect confrontation of perpetrators

Profile No 2


  • passively observe
  • often follow or support perpetrators (in order to feel accepted)
  • avoid the victims (due to embarrassment)