The values of the EU, such as freedom, democracy, respect for the law and human rights, are reminded of Europe Day, which was celebrated on Monday. The initiative "Do something for Europe" also campaigns for a united, tolerant Europe. In the current times, this is more important than ever, as it shows us that we must not take it for granted. And of course, these values also apply to our togetherness on the digital world.
This week is marked by Europe Day: the founding day of the European Union (EU). On May 9, 1950, then-French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman presented his plan for cooperation among European nations, laying the foundation for today's EU. The goal: to ensure peace in Europe.
In times like these, Europe Day also invites us to be aware once again of the EU's fundamental values: Human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. These values cannot be taken for granted. They need the support and activity of all of us. Also on the internet, because the principle of freedom of opinion and religion also applies in the digital world, values such as solidarity, recognition, respect and the attitude of the equal value of all people.
Digital Services Act also protects EU citizens from hate speech
An important step toward strengthening these values in Europe should be the digital services legislative package, which the EU agreed on in spring 2022 and which is scheduled to come into force next year. One part of this package is the Digital Services Act (DSA). It regulates the principle that "what is a crime offline is also a crime online" and places greater responsibility on platform operators, including simple reporting procedures, deletion of illegal content such as hate speech within 24 hours, higher transparency in algorithms or in the protection of minors.
However, in order for laws such as the DSA or the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (Network Enforcement Act), which was introduced in Germany several years ago, to have any effect at all, we are all asked to be vigilant online and take action against illegal content. With the campaign #TAKEPART – No hate speech, Telekom is doing exactly that: promoting respectful behavior on the internet based on democratic rules.
"Do something for Europe": Providing impetus for a Europe of the people
The non-partisan initiative "Do something for Europe" (German: Tu was für Europa) also wants to inspire, motivate and support individuals, groups and institutions to commit themselves to a united, tolerant and democratic Europe and its values. They want to encourage people to actively and visibly stand up for Europe - not only on Europe Day!
The initiative also uses the Internet and social media as a communication channel as part of its work. Because they stand up for European values, they become targets for strategic hate, especially online. Jonas Hirschnitz, managing director of "Tu was für Europa," confirms: "In our work, we have already experienced concretely how online campaigns, in which we wanted to push a constructive conversation about Europe, were systematically attacked by anti-European networks. Dealing with that was a challenge for us. After all, we want people to discuss Europe in a controversial way. But always on the basis of values that Europe also stands for: mutual respect, mutual listening and the common will to improve things. Whether online or offline: Europe is diversity, tolerance, friendship and exchange - after all, that's what we all have to work for! The fact that Telekom wants to enable precisely this with its campaign is something we feel is very important and valuable, especially on the basis of our own experience."
How does hate feel on the internet?
Regardless of your skills, anyone can be the target of hate online. We want to point this out, we fight against it. But how does it feel?