Facebook criticised over online harassment project

Facebook, Twitter, and Google are consulting with women’s groups around the world in a bid to organise a “fightback” against online harassment.

Facebook criticised over online harassment project

It is understood that the plans involve fostering a “counter-speech” movement, which would challenge misogyny, racism and threats of violence. This movement would be facilitated by the tech companies involved, but not led by them.

However, the move – reported by The Guardian – has already been criticised by some groups who see it as technology companies abdicating responsibility for what occurs on their platforms.

Sarah Green, of the End Violence against Women Coalition, told The Guardian that although any changes by technology companies were welcome, it “can’t [be] the whole answer – we wouldn’t say that harassment and assault of women in the street should simply be dealt with by victims fighting back”.

Research conducted by Symantec in Australia this year highlighted the scale of the problem, particularly concerning women. The study found that 76% of women under 30 had experienced online harassment, making it the norm rather than the exception for this group. One in four young women had been threatened with physical violence. And an astonishing 9% had needed to seek professional help with depression or anxiety owing to being harassed online.

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