August 3, 2021

Online abuse: Facebook, Google, TikTok and Twitter pledge to improve their platforms to make women safer

38% of women worldwide have experienced some type of abuse on the internet.

Free-Photos / Pixabay

Four of the world’s largest social media platforms, Facebook, Google, Twitter and TikTok, pledged this Thursday at the United Nations Generation of Equality Forum in Paris to improve your services so women are safer online.

Laos engagements come after spending more than a year of consultations conducted by the Tim Berners-Lee Web Foundation, in which more than 120 women experts from 35 countries came together to discuss their experiences online and possible solutions.

The senior policy manager of the Web Foundation for Gender Rights and Data, Azmina Dhrodia, said that the experiences of these women were crucial in developing the commitments that companies have just made.

In an open letter, a long list of prominent women, including Emma Watson, Gillian Anderson, Maisie Williams, Ashley Judd, Annie Lennox, Thandiwe Newton and FKA Twigs, asked the directors of the companies, including Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, to prioritize the safety of women on their platforms.

The signatories pointed to statistics showing that 38% of women worldwide have experienced inpatient abuset, a figure that rises to 45% when it comes to Gen Z and Millennials. “The commitments you make today should be seen as a promise to women and girls around the world that they will decisively confront the abuse they are subjected to on their platforms,” ​​the letter said.

Social media engagements will focus on improving two different areas: reporting and curation. In terms of curatorship, the companies have promised to offer more detailed settings that will give women more control over who can interact with their posts.

They have also said that they will use an easier and more accessible language to know how to navigate and use the tools of the platforms and will provide direct access to security settings.

Some progress has already been made to protect women from their interaction on some platforms. For example, Twitter already has tools that allow users to filter responses by quality, which means that women are not directly offended with comments that have abusive language. However, each platform will have to approach this challenge differently depending on how it works.

The organization The Web Foundation will monitor companies to see if they deliver on their promises and will report annually on their progress. Social media companies are also expected to post regular data and information on how they are implementing the commitments they made.

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