Emma Watson and Thandiwe Newton are taking action against online abuse

·1-min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

A group of high-profile women have come together in a bid to end online abuse against women.

Names such as Emma Watson, Thandiwe Newton, ex-tennis player Billie Jean King and former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard have signed an open letter asking for action against internet trolling.

The letter, which has been published at the UN Generation Equality Forum, asked the chief executives of Facebook, Google, TikTok, and Twitter, to "urgently prioritise the safety of women on your platforms," reports the BBC.

Photo credit: Pacific Press - Getty Images
Photo credit: Pacific Press - Getty Images

"As prime minister of Australia, like other women in the public domain, I regularly received highly gendered and ugly social media, including the circulation of pornographic cartoons," explained Gillard, adding that she feels "angry and frustrated that women still face this kind of abuse".

Despite companies committing to improving systems and filtering what their users see, some campaigners are concerned it’s not enough.

The letter reads: "The internet is the town square of the 21st Century. It is where debate takes place, communities are built, products are sold and reputations are made.

"But the scale of online abuse means that, for too many women, these digital town squares are unsafe. This is a threat to progress on gender equality."

Photo credit: Vera Anderson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Vera Anderson - Getty Images

It highlighted a 2020 study, which found that 38 per cent of more than 4,000 women in 51 different countries had experienced direct online intimidation, emphasising worse abuse for marginalised groups and Black, Asian, Latin American, and mixed-race women.

Azmina Dhrodia, senior policy manager at the World Wide Web Foundation, who organised the letter, said: "It is really important that we recognise that abuse and harassment against women on social media platforms is widespread and that it is one of the biggest barriers to gender equality."

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