Glitch’s written evidence on the impact of Covid-19

Glitch, as part of The Centenary Action Group (CAG), has submitted written evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee Inquiry into COVID-19 and the impact on people with protected characteristics. The CAG is a cross-party campaigning coalition representing over 100 activists, politicians and women’s rights organisations working together to eradicate the barriers that prevent a diverse range of women from taking part in the decisions that affect their lives. Alongside Glitch, members include the Fawcett Society, Women for Refugee Women, Girlguiding and political party affiliated women’s groups.

The impacts of COVID-19 are likely to have disproportionate effects on women & exacerbate intersectional inequalities in both the short and long-term. Policymakers must consult with a range of women’s organisations and include women in response and recovery decision-making, centring the experiences of women with multiple protected characteristics, such race, disability and religion.

CAG’s recommendations to the government address domestic violence, healthcare, sex-disaggregated data, economic impact, the position of migrant women, women in immigration detention and Glitch’s focus; online abuse.

Online Abuse
The use of digital spaces has increased significantly in light of COVID-19, and with it has come reports of an increase in abuse and harassment online. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a 2017 online poll by Amnesty International found that one in five women in the UK had suffered online abuse or harassment. It is also well-established that online abuse disproportionately affects women with intersecting identities whereby female politicians and journalists of colour were found to be 34 percent more likely receive abuse on Twitter than their white counterparts. New trends of targeted online abuse and harassment have been reported as more people spend time online. For example, there has been a rise in ‘zoombombing’, whereby “uninvited attendees share hateful and graphic material, often including pornographic, racist and anti-Semitic images in Zoom video conferences”. This requires the sociotechnical vulnerabilities of new and emerging tech platforms to be urgently assessed and the collection of data for such reports of online harassment. This should be conducted by tech platforms and monitored by government.

Research by Girlguiding shows that online abuse and harassment is an issue that particularly affects girls and young women. 50% of girls aged 11-21 think sexism is worse online than it is offline (2016), and 25% of girls and young women aged 11-21 had threatening things said about them on social media (2018). Given this, in the current situation, girls and young women are at a higher risk of experiencing harassment and abuse online and could be exposed to unwanted sexual imagery and harmful content.

Glitch is calling on the government to address online abuse against women through education, enforcement of existing laws and policies and to empower civil society organisations in the upcoming Online Harms Bill. Glitch also supports Lord McNally’s private members bill and amendment to the Online Harms White Paper to include ‘hatred by sex’ as part of the definition of ‘online harm’ presented in the Online Harms white paper. Government earlier this year already made a commitment to this.

With many people now transitioning to remote working online, swift efforts must also be taken to address potential vectors for harassment and abuse online in the online workplace. Accordingly, the government should implement the International Labour Organisation Convention 190 on Eliminating Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. Furthermore, companies need to implement their own strategies relating to online harassment and domestic abuse.

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First UK charity to hold online party – put on by digital citizenship organisation Glitch

Glitch, the UK’s leading charity against online abuse, is set to become one of the first charities in the UK to hold an online party for supporters in light of the lockdown restrictions.

On Monday 13th at 3pm, Glitch will be holding an online party for supporters to celebrate their achievements over the past three years. 

Focusing on ending online abuse, championing digital citizenship and holding tech companies to account, Glitch is using this birthday party as an opportunity for its audience and supporters to also see how the internet can bring people together and be used for positivity during this time. The use of digital spaces has increased significantly in light of Covid-19, digital citizenship is more important than ever before, and Glitch is leading on this by presenting fun, but practical ways of connecting digitally whilst practicing good digital citizenship. 

Glitch runs workshops equipping people with the skills they need for digital citizenship, with 99% of participants saying that they would recommend their workshop to someone else, and over 70% of respondents felt confident using tools and systems to protect themselves online. 

Glitch Gounder and Executive Director, Seyi Akiwowo, said “We are proud to celebrate the achievements that Glitch has made over the past three years – from training thousands of people on digital citizenship to presenting at the United Nations. 

“The internet can be an immense force for good. We are excited to be one of the first charities to host this type of event. We’re also developing our response to covid-19 and continuing to work on other digital events including workshops and discussions highlighting the positive impacts of technology with good digital citizenship.” 

Supporters joining the online celebrations will also have the opportunity to chat with the Glitch team and listen to some great music on the bank holiday. DJ Tomiwa will be playing music requests for guests. DJ Tomiwa is a British-Nigerian DJ who prides himself on versatility. Since starting his DJing journey in 2012, he has rocked countless crowds of varying ages and backgrounds, including large concerts and international events, with over one million plays on Youtube.

Glitch reacts to announcement of Ofcom becoming the social media regulator

Glitch welcomes the announcement of Ofcom being given more powers to regulate social media. We hope that this is the first step in the government committing more to do more to end online abuse and improve digital spaces. 

Glitch Founder and Executive Director, Seyi Akiwowo said:

“It is great to see that Ofcom’s powers will be extended to internet safety and that social media firms will be held to account over online abuse. This is long overdue, but it is a step in the right direction. The extension of Ofcom’s powers is key in making sure that there is an ability for action to be taken more quickly as new threats emerge. 

“Glitch’s advocacy focuses on working with the government and tech companies to make online spaces safer for all users. We call on the government and Ofcom to take into account disproportionate levels of abuse that marginalised communities face. 

“In the UK, Amnesty International found that around a quarter of women polled experienced harassment on social media platforms. For women with multi-intersecting identities, such as women of colour, LGBT+ women, and disabled women, it’s even worse. 

“Whilst this announcement is exactly what is needed to start to tackle online abuse, we look forward to seeing the full response in the spring. In addition to this move to further regulate our online spaces, we also need the government to take a leading role in positively reinforcing good digital citizenship. We continue to call on the government to commit to truly investing in digital citizenship education funded through a 1% tax on tech companies.”

Free Digital Self Care Webinar for Politically Active Womxn

Learn vital digital self care, safety and security techniques in just one hour.

To mark EVAW Day, 16 Days of activism and in response to the high levels of online abuse cited by political candidates and outgoing MPs, the Centenary Action Group is hosting Glitch’s digital self care webinar.

Are you a woman in public life wishing to have a flourishing online presence but still wish to keep your personal private? Do you avoid social media because of the fear of online abuse? Then this webinar is for you!

Glitch is offering you the chance to experience its esteemed Digital Resilience Training. Our training is tailored to women and girls who are currently in or considering leadership roles, public appointments or public life and activism, who wish to have a positive online presence without suffering the negative impact of online abuse. Whether you’re a YouTuber, influencer or activist your online life shouldn’t come at the expense of your wellbeing.

Statistics consistently show that globally women are 27 times more likely to be harassed online, and this number increases significantly for women of colour, making it crucial for women to be educated about the issue and empowered to defend themselves against abuse and report the perpetrators effectively. In this one hour webinar you will learn vital Digital Self-Defence techniques, including how to effectively document abuse.

You will also learn about the importance of implementing Digital Self-Care and sticking to it. You will learn how to set and stick to personal digital boundaries and have a flourishing online presence without compromising on your health or happiness. You’ll come away with practical tools and increased control over your online presence, resulting in a happier, healthier relationship with the digital space.

As online gender-based violence (OGBV) is an issue that disproportionately affects women and girls with multi-intersecting identities and marginalised communities, Glitch would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to individuals from these groups.

Please complete this short interest survey to receive more details on how to join at 1pm on Monday 2nd December.

Will your candidates help fix the glitch?

This general election offers an opportunity for all political parties to explicitly support equality for women. Women’s lives have changed significantly in the last 50 years but there is still lots of work to do.

Glitch is proud to be part of a coalition of 30 organisations striving for gender equality and women’s human rights. We call on candidates from across the political spectrum to adopt policies in this Women and Girls 2019 manifesto to redress the imbalances in our society that harm all women and girls, especially those who are further marginalised by race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation or disability. We call on candidates to commit to:

Ensuring the new duty of care on online companies to protect their users includes tackling sexual harassment, bullying and violence that disproportionally affects girl sand women, and ensuring online safety for all women and girls, acknowledging the intersectional nature and impact of this discrimination by requiring service providers to fund comprehensive digital citizenship education for users across the UK.

Let’s make this general election about online safety and justice for all women and girls online. Ask your candidates today: how will you improve the lives of all women and girls online? #GE2019WomenandGirls #GE2019 @glitchuk_

Online abuse: addressing new forms of control

Glitch recently had the opportunity to work with our friends at Safe. We wrote about online abuse and how it pervades our offline lives from the lens of domestic abuse. You can read our article below and we encourage you to subscribe to their newsletter, where you can read more content like this.

 

Glitch Featured on The Rundown by HuffPost

Why should we care about cyberflashing?

If you exposed yourself to someone on the street, you’d be arrested for flashing. So why are people so comfortable with doing it online? HuffPost UK reporter Sophie Gallagher explains why we should care about cyberflashing in this episode of The Rundown, joined by our very own Seyi Akiwowo, Glitch Executive Director and Founder. Watch the video below to find out more:

Digital Self Care + Self Defence Workshop on July 23rd

For women and girls, the odds of facing harassment while using social media are significant, statistics show that women are 27 times more likely to be harassed online than men. Women and girls of colour face an even bigger threat: they are 34% more likely to be mentioned in abusive or problematic tweets than white women. This makes it crucial for women to be educated and empowered about defending themselves against abuse and reporting the perpetrators effectively.

Glitch provides training tailored for women and girls who are either in, or considering taking on leadership roles, public appointments or activism, and wish to have a flourishing online presence whilst maintaining their privacy and protecting themselves against online abuse. Our next free Digital Self Care + Self Defence Workshop is taking place on July 23rd at London City Hall, at 6pm. Tickets are available at Eventbrite.

This event is a great opportunity to understand how to build your social media presence while simultaneously preserving your personal wellbeing. You will learn techniques for online self care, safety and security in just two hours. You will learn how to set and stick to personal digital boundaries and how to establish a healthier relationship with the digital space. 

As online gender-based violence (OGBV) is an issue that disproportionately affects women and girls with multi-intersecting identities and marginalised communities, Glitch would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to individuals from these groups. We have received a grant by Doteveryone that will enable us to support travel and/or caring costs for those who come from low socio-economic backgrounds, young mothers and young carers. Please click here if you need this support to attend our workshop.

We cannot wait 2 years to protect women and girls from online abuse and violence

Today Justice Minister Paul Maynard and Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright have launched a public consultation to help with a review of the law around ‘cyber-flashing’, ‘revenge porn’ and ‘deepfake’ pornography to ensure the law protects victims and is fit for the modern age. Whilst we welcome today’s announcement and focus on online gender based abuse and violence towards women and girls, we agree with End Violence Against Women Coalition, we cannot wait two years before action is taken to tackle online abuse. 

Evidence is already available and it is strong. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by online abuse such as “revenge porn”, deepfakes and cyber-flashing. Waiting for more than two years for action is not acceptable. Such a wait also creates risks. That is because the tactics used by the perpetrators of online abuse evolve so quickly. We have huge concerns that recommendations given in 2021 will already be out of date, and new forms of abuse will already have emerged for which there will be no legal response.


In short, Government needs to act more quickly and more boldly.
We can act now. Glitch strongly recommends the Government ringfence 1% of the new digital services tax and invest in digital citizenship education, in the enforcement of existing laws and better empower civil society groups providing essential services and support with online abuse.

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