We hope that our research, campaigns and policy recommendations, can persuade governments and tech companies to make online spaces safer for all – especially for women, who are disproportionately affected by online abuse and violence. Read on to see a few examples of our work so far.
Black Lives Matter Online Too
Studies show that race is the largest strand of online hate, with Black people experiencing more of it than other groups; for those who are politically active too, the likelihood of receiving online abuse is even greater. To help change this, we’ve decided to offer free digital self-care and digital self-defence training for Black Lives Matter activists, who are using their voice to publicly speak out against racial injustice. We’ve also launched a petition calling for social media platforms to provide better controls over violent and triggering content, which can lead to PTSD. To learn more, click here.
The Ripple Effect report
When COVID-19 first hit, our gut told us that more time spent at home and on our digital devices would lead to an increase in online abuse. To investigate this, we partnered with the End The Violence Against Women Coalition – a leading group of specialist women’s support services – and carried out some in-depth research. The result is ‘The Ripple Effect’: a report that reveals the gendered impact of COVID-19. We discovered that nearly half of women and non-binary people reported experiencing online abuse since the beginning of the pandemic, and that much of this abuse took place on the main social media platforms (despite tech companies’ claims about making their apps safer). To see our findings in full, download a free copy of the report here.
UK Online Safety Bill
In 2017, the UK Government announced its intentions to make Britain “the safest place in the world to be online”. Although we were pleased to see the seriousness of racist and misogynistic online abuse mentioned in the announcement of the publication of the draft Online Safety Bill in May 2021, we believe the draft proposals do not go far enough to reflect the gendered nature of the problem. The draft Bill also fails to acknowledge the disproportionate impact of abuse on Black women, and women and non-binary people from minoritised communities, which we have highlighted in our research time and time again.
We welcome the Secretary of State’s commitment to stopping online racial abuse, and will be pressing for the government to demonstrate how this bill will make the online space safe for users who experience racist abuse online, in order to strengthen the current provisions laid out within the Bill.
Online abuse against women is a form of violence against women. This must be recognised within this legislation and must be a joined-up approach to the Online Safety Bill and the violence against women strategy, as well as other ongoing work in this area.
We will campaign to ensure that online abuse against women, and its disproportionate impact on racialised and minoritised communities, is reflected in the Online Safety Bill, to ensure that the UK does become a safer place to be online for all of us.
You can read more on our initial reactions to the draft Bill, published in Grazia, alongside Danny Stone, Chief Executive of the Antisemitism Trust here.