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Prohibited symbols on the net

2 minutes reading time
11-17 years
Social Media
© photothek.net

Anyone who smears a swastika on a house wall will be punished for it. But the street has long since ceased to be the sole place for the dissemination of forbidden symbols. On the web, one click is all it takes to share a text, image or video with prohibited content with numerous readers. As in the physical world, there are also rules and prohibitions in the digital world.

What are prohibited symbols?

It is forbidden to use signs of unconstitutional organizations. This is stated in Section 86a of the Criminal Code.
Indicators are symbols that can be clearly assigned to an organization. This can be, for example, the swastika. But also a Slogans such as “Heil Hitler” are prohibited because they clearly refer to National Socialism (NS). Unconstitutional organizations are banned parties, association or NS organizations.

Rules on the net

When prohibited symbols are shared on the net, it is not always punishable. Anyone who writes “Heil Hitler” in a private chat cannot be prosecuted. But if you share the same thing publicly on Facebook, Twitter or other channels, you do. Because it is forbidden to make such symbols accessible in the public space.
If children under 14 share prohibited content, parents are not liable for them. However, in most cases the youth welfare office is informed, which tries to work out the background of the sharing together with parents and child. From the age of 14, juveniles can be prosecuted under the Criminal Code.

Dangers for children

In what way prohibited symbols are shared does not matter. Whether in text, photos, or videos, sharing itself is punishable. That’s what makes it so treacherous, especially for children. Because a video that seems funny at first glance may contain prohibited symbols. If you don’t know your way around, you’ve quickly shared a funny video and spread the word about what’s forbidden.
It is also problematic that some symbols are banned in Germany, but not worldwide. In particular, symbols of the NS Time may be legally shared on the web in some countries. Therefore, children can unknowingly – despite the ban in Germany – Google, download and share the swastika. Extremist groups often use social networks to share banned symbols and content, as many people are reached and tracking is often difficult.

How can parents intervene?

Together with your child, find out which symbols are prohibited and why. Indeed, for educational purposes, they may be shown. A good overview is provided by the compilation of the website Democracy and Diversity.
If you or your child receive a prohibited icon in private chats, delete it immediately. If you discover any on the web, you can report them. Either to the police or to complaint centers on the Internet. It is important to indicate where exactly you found the prohibited symbol online, for example the link to the Facebook post or comment or the URL of the website.

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