Recommendations for Policymakers

UNDERSTANDING AND RECOGNISING THE CHALLENGE

  • We recommend that ahead of the UN Elimination of Violence Against Women Day on 25th November, all states and political parties acknowledge online abuse as a form of violence against women and politically active women.
  • The UK Government should commission more research into online behaviour, including factors contributing to perpetrators’ likelihood of abusing and trolling others online. We strongly recommend any future research on online abuse or online bullying be intersectional and look specifically at young people with multiple identities.
  • We also recommend that the the UK Government and the Criminal Justice System capture all evidence on online abuse and online hate speech and publish analyses of trends in annual reports. The UK Government should make a commitment to collect data, on a regular basis, on different forms of online violence against women, people of colour and other diverse groups. This will provide evidence to support the development of effective policy responses and interventions.

SUPPORTING YOUNG PEOPLE

  • We cannot afford for our generation and the next to become desensitised to committing and being victims of bad behaviour online. We want to cultivate agency of young people and start a conversation about the importance of being responsible citizens online. Educational institutions should take cyber-bullying more seriously and be supported to respond to bullying driven by any form of hate robustly.
  • Digital citizenship needs to be central to education, taught universally and from a young age. The need for more intensive delivery of digital citizenship education is now recognised around the world from UNESCO to the House of Lords in the UK. Programmes like Internet Citizens by Institute of Structured Dialogue and Glitch’s Digital Citizenship aim to raise the agency of young people to use digital technology online confidently, respectfully and positively online. Digital citizenship education helps young people understand the forms of online abuse, including online hate speech, their impacts and consequences. It also prepares young people to navigate a constantly changing digital space and build a positive online community. Glitch’s Digital Citizenship programme covers areas including digital etiquette, law and security; digital rights and responsibilities; digital health, wellbeing and critical thinking. You can read more about what Digital Citizenship means here.

RAISING AND ENFORCING STANDARDS ONLINE

  • Devolved governments can join the call for social media companies to consistently enforce their terms and conditions. Devolved governments can create, and in some instances enforce, online codes of conduct for their staff, schools and community groups, as well as commission the delivery of digital citizenship programmes.
  • We recommend that the UK Government ensures social media companies leverage additional resources to moderate their platforms, particularly in the aftermath of major terrorist attacks.
  • National and local government can help increase community cohesion in the face of rising hate crime and hate speech by raising awareness of what constitutes a hate crime, including online hate, impacts and consequences.
  • Regional governments can join the calls for social media companies to consistently enforce their terms and conditions as well as learn from The Mayor of London’s Online Hate Crime programme.
  • In September 2017, Former Home Secretary, Amber Rudd announced a UK-wide online hate crime hub. We recommend that the current Home Secretary honours the commitment of his predecessor and prioritises a UK-wide online hate crime hub.