Prosecutors have been told to treat hate crime that is committed online the same as offences committed offline.
The policy has been updated due to the mounting numbers of these types of offences committed by those using a keyboard.
In new guidance, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) states: "The internet and social media in particular have provided new platforms for offending behaviour."
Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions said it was a priority area because of the "corrosive effect" hate crimes are having on society.
The revised documents cover different strands of hate crime:
- racist and religious
- biphobic and transphobic
The CPS says it will prosecute complaints of hate crime online "with the same robust and proactive approach used with offline offending, whilst recognising that children may not appreciate the potential harm and seriousness of their communications" and "treat online complaints as seriously as offline complaints".
Prosecutors have also been told they need to understand the changing nature of internet platforms, while identifying "originators" of abuse as well as "amplifiers or disseminators".
Hateful content on social media sites has repeatedly been highlighted and community groups monitoring anti-Semitic and Islamophobic abuse report that a significant proportion of incidents involve the internet.
The CPS said it has always considered each case on its individual merits and prosecutes offences, whether committed online or offline, where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest.
The authorities' response to hate crime has come under close scrutiny in the last year amid jumps in the number of incidents.
There was a surge in reports following the EU referendum in June 2016, while figures released earlier this month show forces registered a spike around the terrorist attacks that hit the UK earlier this year.