Instagram and the epidemic of online abuse facing women

Instagram e l'epidemia di abusi online che le donne devono affrontare thumbnail

the womenof any age, position or country, still continue to being abused onlinein particular through the platform of Instagram. A recent study, which analyzes thousands of direct messages sent to women on Instagram, found a profound flaw in the security system of the platform. Researchers describe it as “systematic failures to protect women from misogynistic harassment.”

Instagram and the abuse facing women

The report, released by Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), he analyzed thousands of messages sent to five women of a certain thickness e popularity. Among them we find the actress Amber Heard; the British TV presenter Rachel Riley; the activist Jamie Klinglerthe journalist Bryony Gordonand the founder of Burnt Roti magazine, Sharan Dhaliwal.

The researchers looked at a cache of 8,717 messages from women who participated and say they have found out a wave of misogynistic abuse. The study also points to the various ways in which Meta-owned Instagram has been “negligent” in addressing issues.

Among these problems we find the fact that users are unable to report abusive voice notes sent directly to them; they also cannot report messages sent in “vanish mode” – when an image is shown only briefly before disappearing – without displaying them.

As if that weren’t enough, users they struggle to download evidence of abusive messages. Instagram also allows outsiders to making voice calls to women who do not know through direct message.

Imran Ahmedexecutive director of the CCDH, said:

There is an epidemic of misogynistic abuse taking place in women’s direct messages. Meta and Instagram must put women’s rights before profit.

The researchers obtained the messages, subsequently carefully analyzed, through the Instagram data download function. This allows users to access some sort of message archive sent by strangers asking them to send him a message request.

However, in some cases, the participants they had previously blocked abusive users, they were unable to access this request archive. This means that only three out of five women have been able to see a full analysis of their direct message history. We are talking about Rachel Riley, Jamie Klingler and Sharan Dhaliwal.

The CCDH said such difficulties in accessing the data they are not limited to participants of study. In fact, they mark a larger problem which does not adequately address the harassment that continues to spread online.

Amber Heard, who received “error” messages when he tried to download his data, he said Instagram’s reporting feature “isn’t easy to use, isn’t intuitive, and it’s not based on common sense.”

The study looked at the messages of one small part of high-profile users. However, the researchers believe that such results highlight one wider reality for all women on the platform. A frightening reality.

The platform is indeed the place of death threats, annoyance e video e no nude pictures required that come continuously sent without recourse.

Cindy SouthworthMeta’s head of women’s security said:

We disagree with most of the CCDH conclusions. But I admit that the harassment that women receive is unacceptable. That is why we do not allow gender based hatred or any threat of sexual violence. In fact, last year we announced stronger security measures for female public figures.

Are the security measures really effective?

Southworth highlighted the security measures as one separate mailbox for messages from unknown senders. There are also tools for filter messages with common abusive words and phrases. However, these measures seem to be of no use.

In fact, CCDH researchers reported dozens of examples of users sending to women pornographyiimages of nude e modified pornography to show other faces (deep fake), without consent.

In addition to “image-based” sexual abuse, women also received countless violent messages e more specific death threats. Amber Heard said she frequently receives messages that they beg her to kill themselvesor that threaten her baby. In fact, the actress has declared that she no longer feels safe.

The guidelines of the Instagram community prohibit violence e attacks “Based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, disability or disease”. Such messages they should be removed immediately but the CCDH study found that this has often not been the case.

The study showed that one in 15 posts violated these rules. It also showed that Instagram failed to act on new accounts are 10 who sent violent threats via DM.

It is possible that a greater volume of abuse against famous women not addressed, as Instagram’s guidelines emphasize that the platform “generally allows for a stronger conversation around people who are in the news or have a large audience.”

But for many users, Harassment on Instagram can have a chilling effect. In 2020, the largest global survey on online violence found that one in five girls (19%) he left The significantly reduced the use of a platform social media after being harassed; instead, one in 10 girls (12%) has changed the way he expresses himself.

Instragram and online abuse of women: “We don’t feel safe anymore”

The women who took part in this study said they do not feel more confident with Instagram. This aversion can have a particularly damaging effect on the many women who do they rely on the platform to make a livingincluding links financial and the sponsorships. Ahmed said:

Digital spaces provide increasingly important ways to maintain relationships, communicate and build personal brands. For women, however, the cost of social media admission is misogynist abuse and threats sent by abusers with impunity.

In the past, the Meta platform has taken steps towards removing accounts abusive. In February 2021 it started allowing users to block such accounts by sending further messages for a established periodthus disabling the accounts who repeatedly send abusive DMsand disabling new accounts created to circumvent security measures.

According to the participants, however, these security measures I’m not enough. Gordon, who has always been open about her struggles with the food disorders, he said he constantly receives abusive messages about his weight. The woman said:

When we look back on this period and our completely unlimited use of social media, we will feel horror; the same horror one feels when watching a cigarette advertisement claiming that smoking is good for you.

It is good to remember that this is not an issue that only affects famous or high-profile women, as mentioned at the beginning. It is a problem that affects all women. Moreover, it is not the first time that Instagram has been accused of being a social toxic.

If high-profile women they fail to counter these abusescoming to doubt the safety of Instagram and constantly feeling threatened, how normal girls can defend themselves? Instagram has the job of making people feel each of its users is saferegardless of age, gender or profession.

We hope that Instagram takes the study carried out by the CCDH and that you begin to counter, once and for all, these annoying abuses that women have to suffer on the platform.

The women, each of them, they should feel safe and don’t threaten every single day.