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Add your name to this open letter pushing tech platforms to curb abuse of women

Gelo Gonzales

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Add your name to this open letter pushing tech platforms to curb abuse of women

Changes pushed forward by the Web Foundation want the platforms to give women greater control in managing their safety, and to improve systems for reporting abuse

Image from Web Foundation

Facebook, Google, Twitter, and TikTok 'have the power to curb this abuse and improve online experiences for hundreds of millions of women and girls,' says Web Foundation senior policy manager Azmina Dhrodia

US-based nonprofit Web Foundation co-founded by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee published on Thursday, July 1, an open letter to tech CEOs and their respective platforms, specifically Facebook, Google, TikTok, and Twitter, urging them to tackle the abuse of women on their platforms.

The four companies announced a set of commitments tackling online abuse and improving women’s safety on the same day at the UN Generation Equality Forum in Paris, France. The Web Foundation seeks to hold these four companies to account with an open letter that recognizes the “historic promises” and asks for swift, effective changes. 

The letter stressed the urgency of addressing these abuses.

“The scale of the problem is huge: 38% of women globally have directly experienced online abuse. This figure rises to 45% for Gen Zs and Millennials. For women of color, for Black women in particular, for women from the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalied groups – the abuse is often far worse. The consequences can be devastating,” Web Foundation said in the letter.

Image from Web Foundation

For over a year, these four companies have been able to consult with civil society and government experts from over 35 countries to tackle online abuse. The two key changes that are being demanded from the platforms, summarized in the letter, are as follows: 

Give people greater control to manage their safety. Rather than a one-size-fits-all experience, women should have more control over who can interact with them on tech platforms, as well as more choice over what, when, and how they see content online. These tools should be easy to find and simple to use.

Improve your systems for reporting abuse. Current tools need to be improved so women can easily report abuse and track the progress of these reports. For example, dashboards that show users the status of all their reports in one place, features to guide them through the reporting process, and tools that offer women access to additional support when it’s needed, can make a huge difference.

The Web Foundation will be reporting annually on how these tech companies have progressed in achieving the commitments. 

“For too long, women have been routinely harassed, attacked and subsequently silenced in online spaces. This is a huge threat to progress on gender equality,” Web Foundation senior policy manager Azmina Dhrodia said. 

“With their resources and reach, these four companies have the power to curb this abuse and improve online experiences for hundreds of millions of women and girls. Now, they’ve had the chance to work with leading experts from different sectors to co-create solutions that can lead to real change. The commitments they’ve made today should be celebrated as a major win and act as a springboard for companies to tackle abuse against women as a top priority,” Dhrodia added.

Signing the letter from the Philippines are Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, Senator Risa Hontiveros, and Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago. Along with leaders from both the public and private sectors, figures from the entertainment industry have also signed the letter such as actors Ashley Judd and Maisie Williams, and the musician FKA Twigs.

You can add your name to the open letter here–

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.