Consent is simple.
It means giving permission for something to happen and also – this is key – being comfortable giving that permission.
This year’s Safer Internet Day invites us to think about how consent works in digital spaces. Since, according to Ofcom research, we check our phones every 12 minutes and spend, on average, more than a full day a week online, how we relate through the Internet is not insignificant. With a series of taps we are able to connect, interact and share with millions around the world. But the terms on which we interact are not always consensual.
Being coerced into sharing, engaging and communicating in ways we find uncomfortable can be emotionally devastating. Online, this can involve experiencing unwanted sharing of intimate images and videos, having personal information published without our consent, being shamed or deadnamed.
Safer Internet Day sheds light on the range of approaches people take to hurt others online – often strangers but not always . Research published by Project deSHAME, found 6% of 13-17 year olds across the UK, Denmark and Hungary have had their nude or nearly nude image shared with others without permission in the last year, while 2 in 5 have witnessed this happening. Alarmingly,
25% reported witnessing young people secretly taking images of others and sharing them online while 10% admitted having done this themselves in the last year. Non-consensual sharing of images might be done flippantly – perhaps you have seen others doing it for a laugh – but it is one hurtful way in which people are intimidated, disrespected and shamed online.
Girls and women are most at risk; research published by Amnesty International revealed women in the UK and US receive abuse online every thirty seconds – and that’s just on Twitter. Online abuse, whether doxing (publication of private information with malicious intent), online stalking, hate speech, harassment and trolling, always involves treating people in ways no one would consent to be treated.
Conversations about consent – particularly in thinking about healthy relationships – have become more open over the past five years. The viral Thames Valley Police Tea and Consent video from 2015 helped clarify the concept’s simplicity. It explains consent with an analogy of (not) forcing others to drink tea and starkly shows the discomfort and inappropriateness of disrespecting people’s boundaries and preferences. Online, this simple principle of respect is regularly violated.
Last year’s #PlaneBae incident saw a woman on a flight secretly photographed and ultimately harassed when a fictional romance thread captured the public’s imagination on social media. The thread shared on Twitter gained more than half a million likes. The woman was doxxed and targeted with hate messages, despite her repeatedly stating she was not comfortable with the public attention.
This Safer Internet Day, let’s consider a broader understanding of consent: an understanding that covers more than our individual decisions on how much data to share, or whether to accept all the cookies and agree to Terms and Conditions on a particular website. Let’s reflect on what we can do, as online bystanders and digital citizens, to challenge abusive tactics such as doxing and deadnaming.
Understanding different forms of online abuse and how different people are affected is the first step. Let’s challenge wider patterns of misogyny, misogynoir, racial discrimination and anonymous hate that violate consent online. Join the conversation with Glitch’s upcoming TweetChat to learn more about different forms of online gender-based violence and ways it can be addressed on Wednesday 13th February 12:30pm (GMT).
We can challenge our friends to reconsider before sharing photos of others, and be mindful about how we engage with others, and ask whether we ourselves would comfortably consent for our friends and family to be treated in the way we treat, or see others treated, online. Consent, while simple in theory, is revolutionary. It provides language to defend dignity, which can seem abstract and distant online.
Written by: Sussie Anie – Creative Agent
Editor: Seyi Akiwowo- Executive Director
On 13th February we will launch the first edition of our brand new Fix The Glitch Toolkit. This toolkit is designed to support individuals who want to help end online abuse but might not know where to begin. We have created this toolkit to not only raise awareness of online gender based violence (OGBV) but to begin addressing the problem by equipping communities with tools to take action. This is an exclusive edition comprised of only 100 copies. Find out more here.
To officially launch the Fix The Glitch Toolkit we will host a lunchtime TweetChat at 12:30pm (GMT) on 13th February on how can we end online gender based violence. A Tweet chat is a Twitter-based conversation around a specific topic, using a designated hashtag (#FixtTheGlitch) for each tweet. During the tweet chat, our chair will post questions from the Toolkit which is where you are welcome to share your own posts and views on this issue.
Our expert friends joining us for the discussion are:
- Laura Bates, Author and Founder of Everyday Sexism
- Sandra Pepera Director of Gender, Women and Democracy, National Democratic Institute #NotTheCost
- Soraya Chemaly, Director of Women’s Media Centre
- Nighat Dad, Founder of Digital Rights Foundation Pakistan
- Catherine Anderson, Chief Executive, Jo Cox Foundation
- Gina Martin, Writer and Lead Campaigner on the new UK Upskirting Law
- Azmina Dhrodia, Expert on Technology and Gender Based Violence
- Gabby Edlin, CEO and Founder of Bloody Good Period
- Alice Skinner, Feminist Illustrator and Visual Artist
- Chair: Seyi Akiwowo, Founder and Executive Director, Glitch
Partners and expert organisations joining us for the discussion are:
- Amnesty International
- Feminist Internet
- Antisemitism Policy Trust
- The Parliament Project
- Gender Policy and Insights
HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN GLITCH TWEETCHAT
- Mark 13th February, 12:30pm (GMT) in your calendar so you don’t forget to join us
- Use the hashtag #FixTheGlitch so that your tweets are visible to those following the chat
- When answering a specific question or replying to comment from another tweeter, use the question number (i.e Q2) and Twitter handles to identify who you’re speaking to
- Remember, this is a good opportunity learn new perspectives and engage more people in a much needed debate on how to end OGBV, so interact in a positive, respectful way
We look forward to hearing from you on 13th February!
2018 was a year of growth for us and we are so thankful for your continued support. We’ve shared some of our proudest moment of 2018 and exciting plans for 2019.
Our Proudest Moments of 2018
Our key focus last year was to encourage as many people to take some form of action to help fix the glitch to end online abuse.
Over 100 people pledged to help #fixtheglitch and be an active bystander online.
Over 30 public figures have received our bespoke Digital Resilience Training.
We’ve been working closely with policy makers and Members of Parliament cross party to highlight the intersectionality of online abuse, outline both its impact and harms as well as explore effective ways to fix the glitch. Our presentation at the 38th United Nations Human Rights Council on Online Violence Against Women was extremely well received.
We were also invited to Number 10 Downing Street thanks to new Glitch Partners Antisemitism Policy Trust.
We are proud of our submissions to two All-Party Parliamentary Groups and our joint response to Government consultation with Centenary Action Group.
We recently developed working relationships with Facebook as well as Twitter who have agreed for us to a host a listening meeting for British Black Women to share their experiences of online abuse in Spring 2019.
Have you noticed our rebrand? Huge thanks to Double Noire this has supported our online and offline campaigns. We’re excited to see more people learning about different forms of online abuse, the scale of the challenge and exploring effective ways to end it.
We are so proud for our work and organisation to be recommended as best practice in a recent European Parliament Report on Cyberviolence.
Our Hopes for 2019
- Deliver online resources to empower more people to help end online abuse in their local communities.
- Deliver more successful campaigns for change
- Deliver workshops to 5000 young people.
To achieve this we need your support. Here 5 ways you can help:
- Donate: support our Christmas Fundraiser you can make a financial donation via paypal.
- Book: our Our Digital Resilience training or our Digital Citizenship workshop.
- Volunteer: we’ve tripled in size but are also looking for volunteers with skills and expertise to help us grow. If you have finance, legal, fundraising or marketing skills we would love to hear from you! Please complete this short interest form.
- Partner with us: our mission to fix this current glitch in our online world can only be achieved through collaboration and partnership. If you are an individual or organisation working to make the online world safer we would love to work with you! Please get in contact.
- Spread the word: we want to build an inclusive movement to end online abuse to fix this glitch. Follow us online and share Glitch with your Facebook friends and your Twitter and Instagram followers.
We wish you a wonderful 2019 and we look forward to working with you to end online abuse.
Yesterday, Amnesty International has further proved that online abuse is a violation of our human rights with the launch of its latest report on women in politics and journalism. Results from the global crowdsourcing project, named TrollPatrol, support what women, particularly black women, have been reporting for over several years. The research revealed that women in the US and UK face a staggering level of abuse – every 30 seconds on Twitter – and that black women are 84% more likely than white women to face abusive or problematic tweets. Organisations like Take Back the Tech, Women’s Media Center and The National Democratic Institute’s Not the Cost Campaign were one of the first to address this pandemic and we pay tribute to their dedication. Now that we have intersectional data, it’s time we all help fix the glitch and end online abuse.
Last year I experienced a tidal wave of misogynoir, which is abuse that’s both misogynistic and racist, after a speech I made went viral. As a young black woman in politics observing how other women were publicly treated on social media platforms, experiencing abuse first hand was the final straw. This is why I founded Glitch, a not-for-profit organisation that exists to end online abuse. Our workshops centre on digital self care, self defence and digital citizenship and were recently recommended as best practice in a recent European Parliament Report.
According to the report, 1 in 10 tweets mentioning black women is either abusive or problematic, compared with 1 in 15 directed at white women. We strongly agree with Amnesty, social media companies such as Twitter must be more transparent but they must also engage and support many more diverse activist groups using their platforms. For so long, research, policies and Government interventions to address online abuse have focused on children and women, as if the two are homogenous groups. By doing so, we are ignoring the real drivers behind a lot of online abuse and online bullying, affecting women and girls on a daily basis. Amnesty’s research is a welcome step towards a more nuanced, intersectional critique of online harms.
It’s important to understand that while women experience all different kinds of online abuse, the overall impact has a silencing effect that represents a potent threat to gender equality, human rights and democracy. It causes anxiety and, in very sad situations, has resulted in girls self harming and taking their own lives. Amnesty’s Write for Rights Campaign has inspired thousands of people around the world to write to Jack Dorsey, asking him to take serious action. I’ve also received so many messages from people sharing their own experiences of online abuse and losing loved ones.
So, how do we begin to address online abuse?
The current online/offline dichotomy is unhelpful and hides much of the violence that women and girls face online. Founder of Everyday Sexism, Laura Bates’ book Misogynation is a collection of essays talking about the importance of joining the dots between the different forms of violence that women and girls face. We can already see patterns emerging between domestic violence and terrorist attacks and in individuals who are violent offline also, sending abusive messages to women online. Even with these cases we again see social media platforms failing to enforce their own rules.
Having presented at the United Nations Human Rights Council this summer, it was very online abuse towards women in politics was far too common. On a personal level, I strongly urge all political parties and membership organisations to develop a code of conduct for their members and be crystal clear about the support they will provide to their candidates and members when standing, campaigning or representing the organisation.
Moving forward, we need to amplify the experiences of women in public life, campaigners, councillors, candidates, activists, founders of charities, Youtubers, artists and bloggers. We also need to amplify the everyday woman who may use #blackgirlmagic, #blackhistory or #metoo and face abuse from those who are hijacking hashtags and derailing them for their own racist, sexist (or both) agendas. We must have more, frequent and visible conversations on online abuse and the diversity of experiences women face.
I hope we continue to see responsible data-gathering on women with intersectional identities like black disabled women and black muslim women. However, civil society groups cannot combat online abuse alone; tech companies and governments must also be involved. We therefore need new money, resources and training to understand and appropriately educate, enforce and empower society against online abuse. We also must see sufficient resources to support diverse media groups such Black Ballad, Media Diversified and Gal-dem Magazine who are mentioned in the research, as well as diverse academics, technologists, law enforcement and civil society groups to continue their vital work.
Finally and arguably most importantly we need to see more men be effective allies to women online and certainly must see more white women be effective allies to black women. Last year, the BNP created a racist and sexist Christmas card, which well-meaning Twitter users then forwarded on to Diane Abbott MP when sharing their outrage. Abbott, who receives almost half of all online abuse directed at female MPs, need to see the offensive card over and over again? Glitch’s digital citizenship workshop, aimed at all online users but specifically young people, encourages participants to under with digital rights comes digital responsibilities and adopt an ‘active bystander’ attitude when engaging in activities online. Black women have been talking about their negative experience online and thanks to Amnesty, we now have the data to prove it. But it’s up to all of us to make lasting change.
First appeared in the Huffington Post
Our Executive Director, Seyi Akiwowo responding Amnesty International’s new report revealing abusive tweets are sent to female politicians and journalists every 30 seconds. The study also found that black and minority ethnic women were a third more likely to be targeted than white women. It’s time to fix the glitch and end online abuse
Make the most of this season of goodwill by donating to help us continue tackling online abuse. As we countdown to Christmas we’ll be asking for your support with some of our most important work. You can get started now with a donation of just £5 via our Paypal
Glitch celebrates the adoption of new social media guidelines by the CPS. It is a step forward to fix the glitch and end online abuse. These guidelines show the commitment of the UK to the United Nation treaties and resolutions, adopting real measures to protect Human Rights in our national legislation. We are pleased to see our recommendations are being heard and acted upon.
Glitch would like to know what steps will be taken to effectively implement these guidelines. The police are currently under-resourced and for these guidelines to be effective there must be investment in and transparency around the training and capacity of prosecutors and law enforcement teams.
Civil society groups also need to see how data is being collected, strengthen sex and age-disaggregated data collection and publication as recommended in the Harlevoix Commitment. We hope that reports will be publicly shared for all to analyst the impact of these guidelines and that the CPS will work with civil society groups to ensure these guidelines are effective.
For more information
Last September, Twitter expanded its Hateful Conduct Policy with the introduction of a Dehumanisation Policy. This new set of rules aims to prohibit “language that treats others as less than human”, denying their human nature or their human qualities. It includes an extensive list of the identifiable groups that could be victimised. However, this policy only protects individuals when they have been dehumanised based on “a membership in an identifiable group”. While we celebrate the good gesture of Twitter to seek feedback from global perspectives and acknowledge the different impacts on cultures and communities around the world, an issue arises when a person’s membership is not clear due to the nature of the dehumanising insult. For example, when someone makes a direct comparison of another person to an animal.
Twitter’s consultation was short, just 14 days which is inaccessible for many and limits the scope. By not giving adequate chance to participate, the purpose of the survey is undermined. While we believe it is a step forward to end online abusive behaviour, it is not enough.
- Publish more information on the implementation of Twitter’s current hateful conduct and new dehumanisation policies
- Higher engagement with the community and communication of results and statistics
- Clarity on the definition of “abusive tweet”
- Transparency in the exercise of enforcing e.g: sharing guidance of moderators
- Implementation of an accountability mechanism to secure enforcement
- Expansion of the regulation for a more consistent policy and higher protection of individuals
There is still a large policy gap that social media companies must address. We can all help to fix the glitch and therefore we want to see real efforts to tackle online abuse. Read more of our recommendations here: https://seyiakiwowo.com/our-recommendations/.
Tonight, during a commercial break on GoggleBox, Channel 4 will broadcast adverts overlaid with abuse that has been directed at the people who feature in them via social media platforms.
The online abuse, including all manner of terrible things including death threats, received by those featured in these ads is shameful and we massively empathise with those having to deal with this. Glitch!UK believes each person is incredibly brave for telling their story and allowing the ads to be re-played in the hope it will bring awareness and change.
Social media companies must do better to enforce their own rules and take down inappropriate, abusive and illegal content. We believe they have a duty to ensure all their users feel safe on their platforms.
Companies that run ads like these also have a duty to protect those they work with. This should include clear anti-hate and safe online community policies accessible via their social media accounts.
Brands and companies can be leaders in helping #fixtheglitch. They have trust and people have relationships with them, take Nike’s new campaign with Colin Kaepernick, for example. Companies can help lead social change but to do it they need to vocalise their rebuke of this abuse.
We can all be active bystanders. Call out trolls when you see them, report them to the platforms they’re being abusive on and drown out their negative comments with positive ones. We can all be digital citizens and help #fixtheglitch.
You can contact our Communications Manager and Director via info[AT]fixglitch.org for further comment.
Glitch!UK is proud to announce we are taking part in World Suicide Prevention Day. A study found that victims of cyberbullying under the age of 25 are more than twice as likely to self-harm and enact suicidal behaviour. This is why we are getting involved. Our goal is to raise awareness and prevent more young people from feeling this way in the future. Our aim is to get more young people to take part in our Digital Citizenship workshops about digital safety and helping young people navigate the online world confidently, critically and positively. On the lead up to world suicide prevention day we will be signposting to organisations and resources. You can find out more about our Digital Citizenship programme here.
- Samaritans – for everyone, call 116123 or email email@example.comHelpline: Samaritans – for everyone, call 116123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men, call 0800585858 (5pm to 12am)
- Papyrus – for people under 35, call 08000684141 (Mon-Fri 10am-10pm, weekends 2pm-10pm, bank holidays 2pm-5pm), text 07786209697, email email@example.com
- Childline – for young people under 19, call 08001111 (it’s anonymous on your phone bill)
- The Silver Line – for seniors, call 08004708090