IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Social media companies vow to reduce abuse of women online

Tech giants announce move at equality forum

Facebook website on a computer screen

Facebook, Google, Twitter, and TikTok have committed to changing their moderation policies to protect women from abuse online. 

The announcement, made at the UN Generation Equality Forum in Paris, was orchestrated by the World Wide Web Foundation (WWWF) in response to rising concerns over harassment online. The social media giants have agreed to a set of commitments developed during WWWF workshops on tackling gender-based abuse online. 

The commitments focus on two areas: content curation and online abuse reporting. On the curation side, the workshops found that women needed more control over what they see online and who could comment on their posts. They also highlighted the need for better systems to report abusive content. 

Each commitment has four considerations. On the curation side, companies must offer more granular settings over who can see and reply to posts. They must also provide more accessible language throughout the user experience, easy navigation and access to safety tools, and actively reduce the amount of abuse women see online. 

The reporting commitment requires companies to offer users the ability to manage and track their reports, increase their capacity to address context and language, provide more policy and product guidance when reporting abuse, and establish additional channels for help and support during the reporting process. 

The WWWF said it would measure the companies' performance in these areas and report it annually. 

The foundation cited an Economist Intelligence Unit report measuring online violence against women. 

The report found that 85% of women reported witnessing online violence against other women, including outside their networks. It also found 38% had personally experienced online abuse. 

The most common abuse was misinformation and defamation, as 67% of survey respondents experienced it. The least common types of abuse were violent threats, which an alarming 52% of survey respondents reported experiencing. 

Other abuse tactics included publishing personal information, impersonation, sharing damaging information across multiple platforms, image- and video-based abuse, and stalking or hacking. 

Related Resource

2031: Reimagining the future of life and work

Sample our exclusive Business Briefing content

2031: Reimagining the future of life and work - A futuristic car flying through a yellow cloud with pink sky - The Business Briefing from IT ProDownload now

Some of the tech firms supporting the commitments have some work to do regarding the more equitable treatment of various groups online and offline. 

TikTok has drawn criticism for allegedly telling moderators to suppress videos from users deemed not attractive or rich enough and from users with disabilities. Google, which already changed its harassment reporting policies following a mass employee walkout, drew flak late last year for allegedly dismissing AI ethics co-lead Timnit Gebru after she questioned the company’s treatment of women and people of color. 

Last year, Plan International sent an open letter to social media platforms demanding action after its survey found that harassment across the most popular platforms is driving girls and young women offline. 

Featured Resources

Activation playbook: Deliver data that powers impactful, game-changing campaigns

Bringing together data and technology to drive better business outcomes

Free Download

In unpredictable times, a data strategy is key

Data processes are crucial to guide decisions and drive business growth

Free Download

Achieving resiliency with Everything-as-a-Service (XAAS)

Transforming the enterprise IT landscape

Free Download

What is contextual analytics?

Creating more customer value in HR software applications

Free Download

Recommended

Elon Musk offers to buy Twitter for $41.39 billion, claiming only he can 'unlock its true potential'
social media

Elon Musk offers to buy Twitter for $41.39 billion, claiming only he can 'unlock its true potential'

14 Apr 2022
Jack Dorsey admits regret for helping to centralise the internet
Network & Internet

Jack Dorsey admits regret for helping to centralise the internet

4 Apr 2022
Meta hit with €17 million fine over multiple GDPR breaches
data protection

Meta hit with €17 million fine over multiple GDPR breaches

16 Mar 2022
Meta says Apple's iOS privacy changes will cost it $10 billion in 2022
privacy

Meta says Apple's iOS privacy changes will cost it $10 billion in 2022

3 Feb 2022

Most Popular

Europe's first autonomous petrol station opens in Lisbon
automation

Europe's first autonomous petrol station opens in Lisbon

23 May 2022
Nvidia pauses hiring to help cope with inflation
Careers & training

Nvidia pauses hiring to help cope with inflation

23 May 2022
Open source packages with millions of installs hacked to harvest AWS credentials
hacking

Open source packages with millions of installs hacked to harvest AWS credentials

24 May 2022