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Study Reveals 60 per cent Girls Experience Online Harassment from a Young Age

Madhumayanti Nandi

12th October 2020

According to a new global study, online abuse forces girls to quit social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, with nearly 60 per cent experiencing harassment.

One in five girls and young women had abandoned or cut down her use of a social media platform after being targeted, with some saying harassment started when they were as young as eight years old, the survey by girls’ equality group Plan International showed.

Tweet by a female journalist, Vonny Moyes (Source: Twitter)

“A toxic level of harassment is silencing girls,” the organisation’s chief executive, Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen said, according to Al Jazeera.

According to Hindustan Times, attacks were most common on Facebook, where 39 per cent of girls polled said they had been harassed, followed by Instagram (23 per cent), WhatsApp (14 per cent), Snapchat (10 per cent), Twitter (9 per cent), and TikTok (6 per cent).

The survey polled 14,000 girls and young women aged 15 to 25 in 22 countries, including Brazil, India, Nigeria, Spain, Thailand, and the United States, as mentioned in the Amnesty International Report.

According to Albrectsen activists, including those campaigning for gender equality and on LGBT+ issues, were often targeted particularly viciously. Their lives and families threatened.“Driving girls out of online spaces is hugely disempowering in an increasingly digital world, and damages their ability to be seen, heard and become leaders”, she added, as reported by Amnesty International Report.

Facebook and Instagram said they used artificial intelligence to look for bullying content, regularly monitored users’ reports of abuse, and always removed rape threats.

Twitter also used technology to catch abusive content and has launched tools to improve users’ control over their conversations.

In an open letter to Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter, girls worldwide called on social media companies to create more effective ways to report abuse. As reported by Al Jazeera, they wrote, “We use (your platforms) not just to connect with friends, but to lead and create change. But they are not safe for us. We get harassed and abused on them every single day. As this global pandemic moves our lives online, we are more at risk than ever”. Plan International also urged the companies to hold to account those behind such abuse and collect data on the scale of the problem.

News Sources: Amnesty International Report, Aljazeera, Hindustan Times, The Hindu

Edited by: Sanskriti Airon

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