Social networks are silent when women are harassed and abused

Dhaliwal, founder of South Asian cultural magazine Burnt Roti, blocked the accounts that sent these photos, but the harassment continued, according to SCMP.

“It’s a power game where they feel powerful and can walk away saying ‘I did that to her,'” she said.

Dhaliwal was responding to a recent report on gender-based violence and misogyny on Instagram.

Experts and support staff in Asia and Europe say social media and chat apps are disappointing women “systematically” with the use of images and pictures. Other forms of online sexual violence are on the rise during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Statistics show that only 1/10 of social media abuse cases are actually handled by the platform. Image: Andre Moura/Pexels.

Social network is silent

Their comments come after a recent report by the Center Against Digital Hate (CCDH), a US-based nonprofit focused on breaking online hate. online and misinformation.

The report found that the social network failed to handle 90% of abuse sent through direct message boxes (DMs). According to CCDH, the findings represent “an epidemic of anti-women that is taking place in women’s DMs”.

The center analyzed 8,717 messages received by five famous women on the channel, including Hollywood actors Amber Heard and Dhaliwal, who speak out about the rights of South Asian women.

Clare McGlynn QC, professor of law at Durham University in the UK and an expert on visual sexual abuse, said the report points to the “systems and processes” of social media platforms at issue. subject like.

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Writer Dhaliwal, shortlisted for globally influential women BBC 100 Women 2019, constantly receive sexually harassing messages on social networks. Image: @sharandhaliwal_.

“This is not just a matter of abuse and harassment, the bottom line is that social media platforms are making it worse. If even a famous star doesn’t get a response from the social media company, what hope is there for other users?” she said. SCMP.

Shailey Hingorani, head of Research and Advocacy at Singapore-based AWARE, agrees that “there is much to be noticed in this new report around gaps in the way it handles misconduct. social networks, and how the platform doesn’t live up to its promises to its users.”

Hingorani said it’s not new for women to be abused on social media.

“But the rate of taking action against abusers of the social media platform is staggeringly low,” she stressed.

As CCDH reports, Instagram doesn’t respond to most reports of abuse, including unsolicited nude photos and videos, violent messages, and even death threats.

The social network only handles one in 10 violent threats via DMs, even when the rest are reported using the platform’s tools.

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The company’s social network Meta is disappointing female users. Image:

Of those who sent abusive messages studied, 227/253 accounts remained active for at least a month after being reported.

Abusers sometimes try to reach their targets through an Instagram video call. One account tried to call Dhaliwal after sending her a picture of his male genitals.

Over the course of three days, another stranger sent Dhaliwal 42 messages, some containing sexually explicit content, and then tried to call her.

Audio messages also become a vehicle for abusers. Speaking to CCDH, Dhaliwal thinks that harassing voice messages make it more offensive.

Social prejudices get in the way

Professor McGlynn notes that many “forms of visual abuse are becoming normalized”. For example, sending pictures of penises without consent is becoming “too common and normalized”.

Meanwhile, victims around the world are facing increasing challenges, although specific social and cultural contexts may make it even more difficult for some.

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Harassment of women with pictures on social media is being normalized. Image: Alycia Fung/Pexels.

“We believe that victims all face the same obstacles and prejudices when seeking help, reporting and sharing their experiences,” said Jacey Kan, advocacy officer for the Association of Involved Inquiry. Sexual Violence Against Women in Hong Kong, share.

“Hong Kong is still lagging behind the contemporary #MeToo movement with online and public discussions about consensus, bodily autonomy and related forms,” she said.

She said victims in Hong Kong or Taiwan are often mocked and harassed on local online forums. It is “very rare” to see supportive comments for the victim, according to Kan.

In Asia, “face,” which can include “reputation, respect, prestige and honor, is more valued,” Hingorani said. The concept “is also often associated with female chastity, leading to further social stigma towards sexual violence in Asian contexts”.

Perpetrators are encouraged by anonymity

Nisha Rai, coordinator for the Coalition for Action focused on addressing online abuse against women and girls in Singapore, said the findings in the recent CCDH report were “disturbing”. shy”, but not too surprised.

Rai, 23, a political science university student, follows 15 groups on the encrypted messaging platform Telegram, where abusers share sexually explicit images and videos of girls and women. Many of the team members are from Singapore and Malaysia.

“I feel like the visual abuse is getting worse and worse. By being able to hide their identities, it’s not surprising that perpetrators are increasingly encouraged to misbehave their way,” she said.

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Women, especially in Asia, face social stigma when speaking out about experiences of abuse on social media. Illustrations: Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels.

Silvia Semenzin, social activist and lecturer in digital culture and new media at the University of Amsterdam, says social media companies like Meta need to be mindful of the views of victims of sexual abuse. sex.

“The problem is that these companies will always put profit above human rights. Their driving force is data mining,” she said.

According to Professor McGlynn, the key point is to get media companies to change their systems in a way that minimizes online abuse and its spread.

“This means ‘minimizing risk’ should be the main principle of companies. It’s a complete and necessary change in the way platforms work,” she said.

The professor also argues that no social media platform takes its handling of abuse and harassment seriously enough.

“All say they do; but again and again, reports like CCDH’s are published and show that social media companies are particularly disappointing women,” she said.

(According to Zing)


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