Online abuse against women is on the rise, but why aren’t the police, government and social media sites doing more to stop it?
Social media companies say they take online hate against women seriously – and they have rules to protect users from abuse. These include suspending, restricting or even shutting down accounts sending hate.
But my experience suggests they often don’t. I reported some of the worst messages I’ve ever received – including threats to come to my house to rape me and commit horrific sexual acts – to Facebook when I received them. But months later, the account remained on Facebook, along with dozens of other Instagram and Twitter accounts sending me abuse.
It turns out my experience is part of a pattern. New research for this programme by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, shows how 97% of 330 accounts sending misogynistic abuse on Twitter and Instagram remained on the site after being reported.
Social media sites have come under increasing pressure not to promote misleading information about vaccines and the pandemic. But why hasn’t that happened with misogynistic content on Facebook and Instagram?
Gaming giant Activision Blizzard has settled a sexual harassment case brought by a US federal employment watchdog for $18m (£13.2m).
The company – which makes massively popular games such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Overwatch – said the agreement was “part of its effort to have the most welcoming, inclusive workplace”.
However, the EEOC legal case is only one of several Activision Blizzard is facing over allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination.
[S]ome of Activision’s investors filed legal cases against the firm in August for allegedly concealing the damaging allegations from shareholders.
Putting up with bullying has always been a feature of political journalism, but something has changed recently which is making political bullying far more insidious and increasingly challenging to bear, writes Leigh Sales.
Let’s not duck the common thread here — it is overwhelmingly left-leaning Twitter users who are targeting ABC journalists for abuse.
This is an unusual experience for ABC journalists because we are usually targeted in the real world by the right.
In the Australian corner of Twitter, the space is dominated by views that are militantly pro-lockdown, pro-COVID zero and pro-Labor premiers, and even the tamest of questions in those directions prompts an onslaught.
It is a matter for a commercial entity like Twitter to ask itself — and my understanding is that it is — whether the treatment of journalists, in particular female journalists, on its platform is acceptable.
Source: Womens Safety Summit
The women decided to speak publicly for the first time to call on the company to remove a longstanding forced-arbitration clause in its 10,000-word terms of service that neither of them said they were aware of when they used the platform. They said arbitration would silence their voices and keep the issue of sexual assault at Airbnb listings hidden.
Airbnb said on Friday, after being informed of the women’s statements, that it would change its terms of service this fall to no longer require arbitration in cases involving the sexual assault or sexual harassment of guests and hosts. It also said it hasn’t enforced the policy since January 2019, although it didn’t make any announcement at the time or change the terms of service that its 150 million users must accept to register on the site.
Arbitration is “one of the ways large corporations exert power and control over survivors,” said Latifa Lyles, vice president for advocacy and survivor initiatives at the anti-harassment organisation Time’s Up.
Some companies distanced themselves from mandatory arbitration during the #MeToo movement. Starting in 2017, Microsoft Corp., Google, Facebook Inc. – and Airbnb – removed binding arbitration requirements for sexual assault and sexual harassment claims filed by employees. Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. went even further, changing their terms of service to allow passengers and drivers to file such cases in court.
In the wake of a “manifestly inadequate” award, the president of the Industrial Court of Queensland has increased the compensation for a woman who suffered sexual harassment and discrimination a
““As an association that represents 43% of Australia’s solicitors, we have a responsibility to be part of the solution and ensure that victims can speak out against unacceptable behaviour in the knowledge that it will have severe consequences for the perpetrator, and not them,” President Juliana Warner said.
She added that the Sexual Harassment in the Law portal is a crucial part of the organisation’s current efforts to cut out “disgraceful and unacceptable behaviour” in legal offices.
Grant Karte was today ordered not to contact Ms Cherry for five years, given a supervised community payback order for 15 months and ordered to do 160 hours of unpaid work after sending the MP threats on Twitter.
The MP for Edinburgh South West said: “Earlier on the same day I had been sacked from the SNP Westminster frontbench after senior SNP politicians, members of the SNP NEC and staff employed by the party had wrongly accused me of transphobia, simply because I had spoken up to defend the rights of women and girls and the right to free speech.”
She said their “irresponsible accusations put a target on my back” and that it was “wholly foreseeable that further abuse and threats might be elicited, as in fact happened.”.
She added: “The recent Employment Appeal Tribunal judgement in the case of Forstater v CGD Europe has made it quite clear that my beliefs as a gender critical feminist are protected under the Act. I also share the protected characteristics of sex and sexual orientation.”
Ms Cherry also reiterated that she would continue to defend “the rights of women and girls, the rights of lesbians to be same-sex attracted and the right to freedom of speech” and said it was “not transphobic”, adding: “I will continue to do so despite the attempts to silence me.”
Women are twenty-seven times more likely than men to be harassed on social media. This shocking finding, published by the European Women’s Lobby in 2017, suggests that cyber-violence against women is not a series of isolated acts, but a systemic scourge. Sociological studies have shown that it is mostly committed by men who, contrary to popular belief, belong to more privileged socio-economic groups. Feeling protected by the virtual nature of their actions, the perpetrators are organised and sometimes carry out “digital raids”, or harassment in packs, with terrible consequences, both personal and professional, for their victims. This documentary focuses on women’s testimony from all walks of life who have been victim of online abuse and examines the harm this phenomenon does to them and to democratic debate.
On the ABC’s Ms Represented, Julia Gillard says the sexism she endured as Australia’s first female prime minister only worsened during her time in the role.
The 30-minute program airs at 8pm on Tuesday and shows how sexist attitudes still plague women in Parliament eight years after the incident with Mr Abbott.
A growing number of women across the political divide are calling for a code of conduct that clearly outlines the behavioural and ethical standards expected from politicians with regard to women in Parliament.
Last week, several federal MPs attended a two-day summit run by the Australian National University’s Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, chaired by Ms Gillard, to help establish a model of conduct for Australia’s Parliament.