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Facebook, Google, TikTok, and Twitter to introduce new settings to keep women safe online

The tech giants have vowed to give women more control over who can interact with them

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Photo (c) Westend61 - Getty Images
Facebook, Google, TikTok, and Twitter have pledged to build solutions that will help combat online abuse and improve women’s safety on their respective platforms. 

During the UN Generation Equality Forum in Paris, the four tech giants agreed to sign onto a pledge led by the World Wide Web Foundation (WWWF). The initiative was created to fix flaws that make it more likely for women, and people who identify as women, to have negative experiences online.

The pledge aims to give women more control over who can interact with them online, as well as a better system for reporting abuse. In developing the initiative, the WWWF worked with more than 100 experts from tech companies, governments, and civil society. Women affected by online abuse were also directly involved in the process. 

More than a third of women experience abuse

The Foundation said 38% of women have experienced online abuse. Among Gen Z and millennial women, the figure is higher at 45%. The group found that worse abuse is often experienced among women of color and those in LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized communities.

“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,” said Azmina Dhrodia, WWWF’s senior policy manager. 

In a letter, the WWWF said online platforms are currently falling short in protecting women. 

"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. Current tools need to be improved so women can easily report abuse and track the progress of these reports,” the letter stated.

“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, could make a huge difference.”

Settings to curate safety

The tech companies agreed and have promised to introduce settings to help tackle abuse. They will focus on two key areas: offering more control over who can see, comment on, reply to, or share posts; and offering simple and reliable reporting systems for flagging online abuse. 

The companies also promised to enable “greater capacity to address context and/or language" and to provide “more policy and product guidance when reporting abuse."

“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,” Dhrodia said. The commitments the companies have made “should be celebrated as a major win and act as a springboard for companies to tackle abuse against women as a top priority.”

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