Tech giants commit to tackling online abuse of women

6 Jul 2021

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Facebook, Google, Twitter and TikTok are working with the World Wide Web Foundation in a bid to tackle the abuse of women on their platforms.

Four of the world’s big tech companies have said they will implement safety measures aimed at preventing the abuse of women and girls who use their platforms.

At the UN Generation Equality Forum in Paris last week, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and Google committed to exploring and testing a number of prototypes and solutions developed during workshops involving experts from around the world.

This includes features that let women better manage who can engage with their posts and more options to filter certain types of content, as well as strengthening reporting systems so users can track and manage reports of abuse.

The policies were developed with the World Wide Web Foundation, an international organisation advocating for digital equality.

In a statement made on its public policy account, Twitter said: “Our top priority is keeping everyone who uses Twitter safe and free from abuse. While we have made recent strides, such as conversation controls, prompts to reconsider abusive tweets and upcoming safety mode for screening tweets, there is still much work to be done.”

TikTok’s director of policy, Tara Wadhwa, added that the platform aims to enforce its community guidelines using “both technology and thousands of safety professionals around the world”.

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“While we continue to invest in cutting-edge technologies and industry-leading safety teams, we also work to ensure our community feel in control of their TikTok experience.”

Along with this commitment, Facebook launched a Women’s Safety Hub last week and said it would work with an external panel of expert advisers to address issues of women being targeted online.

Online abuse of women is an increasing threat to internet users, as research by the Economist Intelligence Unit found that up to 38pc of women have directly experienced abuse online, rising to 45pc for Gen Zs and millennials.

Azmina Dhrodia, senior policy manager at the World Wide Web Foundation, welcomed the commitments made by these leading tech companies.

“With their resources and reach, these four companies have the power to curb this abuse and improve online experiences for hundreds of millions of women and girls. Now, they’ve had the chance to work with leading experts from different sectors to co-create solutions that can lead to real change.”

The Generation Equality Forum is a global gathering for gender equality, convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France.

The initiative was set up with the aim of bringing together governments, corporations and other key decision-makers to end gender-based violence, drive equality in technology and innovation, and ensure economic justice and rights for women and girls.

Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic

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