Glitch was founded in 2017 by Seyi Akiwowo, after she faced horrendous online abuse when a video of her speech at the European Parliament went viral. In the aftermath, Seyi both experienced and witnessed the lack of support women – and particularly Black women – receive when reporting online abuse, as she came up against numerous structural and cultural hurdles in addressing the harm she experienced. Recognising the growing urgency to develop robust solutions to end online abuse, she founded Glitch in order to hold tech companies and governments accountable for ending online abuse, and to awaken and empower a generation of digital citizens: a safer, more joyous internet is possible, but we must take action to make it so.
The name of our charity emerged from our initial campaign, “Fix the Glitch”, and reflects our belief that we have a responsibility to fix what we break, as well as our hope that online abuse can be a temporary phenomenon. Human ingenuity continues to result in innovations that help us flourish, and technology has proven to be an area particularly vulnerable to glitches – problems or faults that prevent something from working as well as it should. Online abuse is a glitch that prevents our collective flourishing and Glitch interrupts “business as usual” processes in the tech sector that enable discrimination, exclusion and abuse online. To fix the glitch, we must become a glitch.
Our mission extends beyond the experiences of our founder and CEO, and our charity is connected to former and emergent Black feminist movements whose advocacy and organising unapologetically centre Black women. By protecting Black women, who receive the most and the most toxic online abuse, Glitch puts forward robust and intersectional solutions that improve the online experiences of everyone. In keeping with Black feminist praxis, we understand ‘Black women’ as a diverse range of people from different countries, ethnic groups, religions, schools of thoughts and ways of life, and both trans and cisgender women. We remain inspired by and grateful to Dr. Moya Bailey, who coined the term misogynoir, for her provocation: “I challenge you … to think of Black women first when you see the word ‘woman’ [and] to think of queer and trans women first when you read the term ‘Black women’.”
Since 2017, we have helped shape UK law, shifted the needle on what is expected from social media corporations and taken seats at some of the major decision-making tables in the country. We have grown from a few willing volunteers taking our message into schools, councils and workplaces ready to learn about online safety, into a thriving and registered charity with ambitions to fundamentally transform how social media platforms are designed and regulated. Central to our ambition is our desire to reinvigorate our collective imagination about what the internet can be: we deserve to be free from online abuse and we deserve an internet that is actively designed to encourage joy, community and belonging.