Individuals and groups are frequently targets of bullying, sexual harassment, and hate speech on online platforms. Such norm violations can have detrimental negative consequences, for instance by causing psychological harm and damaging social cohesion. Finding ways to reduce and prevent online norm violations is hence crucial. Online users may play an important role in this context. We argue that it can be considered morally courageous if users decide to take a stand against perceived violations of their own moral beliefs and endorsed norms, as it may imply substantial risks for themselves. With this chapter, we aim to advance our understanding of online moral courage as a relatively new phenomenon. First, we provide an examination of critical characteristics of online environments that may facilitate or hinder moral courage. Second, we discuss consequences of online moral courage by considering its effects on perpetrators, further online users, and the general tonality of the online discourse. Last, we integrate insights on the facilitators and obstacles of online moral courage and its consequences to provide practical recommendations for the design and management of online platforms and user education and training.

Keywords: Moral courage, hate speech, harassment, anonymity, reach, bystander effect, prosociality

Julia Sasse

Julia Sasse is Professor for General Psychology and Media Effects at the Applied University Ansbach and affiliated researcher at the Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence at TUM. She studied at the University of Düsseldorf and received her PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Groningen in 2017. In her research, she investigates the functions of emotions in the context of norm transgressions and social conflicts in offline and online environments. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Julia Sasse, Applied University Ansbach, Residenzstrasse 8, 91522 Ansbach, Germany, e-mail: .

Niklas Cypris

Niklas Cypris is a Research Fellow at the Bergische Universität Wuppertal and an affiliated researcher at the Max-Planck-Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn, as well as the Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence at the Technical University of Munich. He studied at the University of Cologne and received his M.Sc. in psychology in 2020. For his doctoral thesis, he investigates behavioral effects of personalized interventions against online norm violations. e-mail:

Anna Baumert

Anna Baumert is Professor for Social and Personality Psychology at the University of Wuppertal and Leader of the Max Planck Research Group “Moral Courage” at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in Bonn. She obtained her PhD in 2009 from the University of Koblenz-Landau. In her research, she investigates the interplay of social and personality processes for the explanation of perceptions and reactions to social injustice. e-mail: