These include Google, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook.
The recent UN Generation Equality Forum held on Thursday involved the pledge of social media giants. Consequently, these companies promised to tackle abuse experienced by women online and boost their protection from it.
What Triggered This?
It has been known that social media platforms create a much more connected world. However, it is also a double-edged sword as it also creates an avenue for abuse to happen. As with such, users experience various forms of abuse from cyberbullying, identity theft, scams and others.
In line with this, World Wide Web Foundation made it their objective to tackle digital inequality and to end gender-based abuse online. Social media giants consulted with this company to examine and understand online abuse over the past year.
The findings show that women prefer to have more control over their social media accounts. Such as who could reply or comment on their social media posts, and what they see online. They want to have more freedom as to what, when, and how their feed will be shown.
Women also focused on the need for improved reporting systems. This way, in cases that they experience or receive abusive content, there will be enough support from the platform.
Pledge of the Companies
And because of this, the commitment happened. According to the WWWF, the social media companies pledged to “build better ways for women to curate their safety online”.
This can be achieved through the following actions:
- Offering more granular settings (e.g. who can see, share, comment or reply to posts)
- Using more simple and accessible language throughout the user experience
- Providing easy navigation and access to safety tools
- Reducing the burden on women by proactively reducing the amount of abuse they see
The last bullet indicated may not be the most effective solution to the concern. As you can see, it only addresses the location of abuse. Meaning it does not resolve the root cause of the abuse which is the users / person / people causing the abuse. This particular action only “hides” the abuse in plain sight to not be seen by women anymore. However, it does not mean that it does not exist anymore.
The Verge explains that social media platforms “should get more proactive and less reactive”. They should address the sources of the abuse instead of just resolving the abuse after it is done. It seems like the solution still relies on users and women to report such abuse before they address them.
As with the need for better support, the companies committed to implement improvements to reporting systems by:
- Offering users the ability to track and manage their reports
- Enabling greater capacity to address context and/or language
- Providing more policy and product guidance when reporting abuse
- Establish additional ways for women to access help and support during the reporting process
Will This Be Effective?
In terms of specifics on how to achieve such goals, there are not enough details about it yet. The report posted by WWWF also does not include what actions to be made by the social media companies. These companies did not announce their take on the said commitment.
As such, The Verge asked for confirmation from said companies. Twitter executive, Vijaya Gadde, states that their top priority on Twitter is to keep their users safe and free from abuse. On the other hand, Facebook executive Antigone Davis explained in an email that their company makes sure that their policies are updated for users’ safety. Lastly, TikTok announced that their company is planning to develop product changes in the coming months to address the concern. Google, however, failed to give their confirmation of the news.
This is definitely a great collaboration between the social media giants. Let’s wait for further updates and changes concerning this commitment.