Instagram teams up with girl activists and Plan International to tackle online abuse
Instagram is to hear from a global panel of girl activists as part of a new partnership with children’s charity Plan International to help tackle the online abuse and harassment of girls.
Announced on International Day of the Girl [October 11, 2020], the partnership will involve a series of Listening Sessions featuring a diverse group of 15 youth activists, including a representative from the UK, with the first session scheduled for mid-November. The sessions will give policy and product teams from Instagram - as well as other Facebook platforms - an opportunity to hear directly from girls about their experiences on social media, creating a dialogue about ways the companies can continue to invest in protecting girls from bullying and harassment.
The panellists will consult a broad network of girls and civil society organisations to offer insights from thousands of girls and young women worldwide.
The group, which is made up of 10 activists from Plan International’s Global Youth Networks, and five representatives from civil society organisations, will include girls from Japan, Brazil, India, UK, US, Spain, Germany, Benin, Kenya and the Philippines.
Rose Caldwell, Chief Executive of Plan International UK, said: “Social media can and should be a space for young people to share ideas, find their voice, and participate as citizens, yet for many girls both here in the UK and around the world, it means having to cope with daily abuse, threats of violence, and unwanted sexual attention.
“We know from our work here in the UK that nearly half (48 per cent) of girls aged 11-18 have experienced some form of abuse on social media, and as the pandemic forces our lives to move increasingly online, girls are more at risk than ever. During lockdown alone, 1 in 4 girls experienced at least one form of online abuse, bullying or sexual harassment. Girls tell us that these negative experiences are destroying their self-confidence, causing them sleepless nights and impacting on their mental health.
“Now more than ever, we must stand with girls and protect their right to be safe online. By committing to this initiative, Instagram has shown that they are listening to girls’ calls to make its platform safer. This is an important step towards making social media a space where girls feel empowered and safe to express themselves without fear of abuse or harassment.”
The announcement comes as a landmark survey by Plan International of 14,000 girls in 22 countries, including the USA, Brazil, Benin, and India, reveals that more than half (58%) have been harassed or abused on social media.
Cindy Southworth, Head of Women’s Safety at Facebook, said: “Abuse of women on the internet is a serious problem, one we tackle in a variety of ways – through technology that identifies and removes potentially abusive content, by enforcing strict policies and by talking with experts and people experiencing harassment or abuse.
“We know this is a particular challenge and really value the opportunity to work with Plan International and hear directly from young women affected by these issues so we can improve and ensure we are a platform where women feel safe.”
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