More than 200 prominent women from around the world, including actors, journalists, musicians and former government leaders, have written an open letter urging CEOs of Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Google to ‘prioritise the safety of women’ on their platforms.
Women leaders and figures from around the world, including tennis legend Billie Jean King, former Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and other celebrities like Gemma Chan, Gillian Anderson, Maisie Williams, Nicola Coughlan, and Paloma Faith have signed the letter, claiming to keep an eye on their progress and hold the tech companies accountable on the commitments. The letter was published Thursday by the World Wide Web Foundation and coincided with a pledge from the four tech giants to improve the safety of their online platforms.
Facebook, Google, Twitter and TikTok have signed up to the pledge, led by the World Wide Web Foundation (WWWF), to fix persistent weaknesses in how they tackle online gender-based violence. The announcement comes in the middle of a global forum for gender equality convened by UN Women in Paris. In the pledge that has been taken, the tech giants vowed that they’ll be providing more granular settings (example, who can see, share, comment or reply to posts), simple and accessible language throughout the app interface, providing easy navigation and access to safety tools and also have automated content monitoring measures in place to proactively reduce the amount of abuse they see. The reporting systems will also allow users to track and manage their previous abusive or harmful content reports, allow systems to have greater capacity to address context as well as language, clarify policy when a user is reporting abuse and put in place more options that women can use to access help and support if needed during the reporting process.
More than a third of women worldwide have experienced abuse online, rising to almost half for younger women, according to a 2021 study from the Economist Intelligence Unit. The four tech companies have pledged to tackle that abuse by focusing on two major areas of concern across their platforms: women’s inability to control who can reply, comment on and engage with their posts; and the lack of clear and reliable reporting systems for flagging online abuse. “For too long, women have been routinely harassed, attacked and subsequently silenced in online spaces. This is a huge threat to progress on gender equality,” says Azmina Dhrodia, Web Foundation Senior Policy Manager. The numbers tell the gravity of the situation. The Economist in their report ‘Measuring the prevalence of online violence against women’ said that 38 per cent of all women on social media and online platforms reported being at the receiving end of abuse or threats of violence, and that increases to 45 per cent for the younger millennial audience. As many as 63 per cent women were also at targeted with stalking and hacking while 78 per cent of those who took part in the survey say they are often not aware of the reporting measures in place.