Facebook is still doing next to nothing to protect female users from harassment

Social media like navigating public spaces in real life can be a minefield for women
Social media like navigating public spaces in real life can be a minefield for women

According to The Guardian, Amnesty International UK (AIUK) has called for action to be taken against Facebook after a survey done by Women Rights group Level Up, found that 52% of harassment claims made by female Facebook users are either ignored or brushed off.

They found that around twenty nine percent of the woman who took part in the survey were harassed on Facebook. With some claiming that they were being tagged in inappropriate posts, being sent graphic content and insulting messages.

AIUK found these results to be perturbing, especially since online bullying/harassment has reached an all time high, not only abroad but here in SA too, where it was found that this country has the some of the highest levels of online bullying.

READ MORE: Nearly all sexual harassment at work goes unreported – and those who do report often see zero benefit

A recent example being when SA musician Kellly Khumalo began trending on Twitter following the circulation of a video of Babes Wodumo being assaulted by her partner Mampintsha.

Users of the app were making jokes about Kelly dating Mampintsha calling her babes wokufa which translates to "babes of death". This after the deaths of her previous boyfriends Prosper Mkwaiwa and Senzo Meyiwa, implying that Mampintsha too might kick the bucket thereafter.

Kelly has since addressed her online bullies with a tweet that reads "I know who I am and what I stand for, a Killer and and abuser is not one of them which is more than I can say about you [...]"

And while she handled the situation quite gracefully, one cannot help but wonder what it will take for social media sites to ensure that their sites are better regulated.

READ MORE: 4 things Twitter should be working on and leaving the like button alone

A spokesperson for AIUK said the “extremely worrying” findings were indicative of a “new frontier of human rights abuses” which are often unaddressed: “Time and time again we hear social media companies making pledges that they will do better, but their efforts have not been good enough. Women are still feeling silenced to speak out online for fear of abuse.”

Fifty four percent of the women who took part in the survey did express a lack of faith in Facebook's ability to ensure that the harassment comes to a complete halt on the app while seventy two percent of them agreed that they need more moderators to handle complaints.

READ MORE: Have we become obsessed with a culture of online shaming?

According to the article, the situation is particularly bad for black women and women under the age of 25. Fifty six percent of women under the age of 25 and forty percent of black woman had said that they had been harassed on Facebook at least once.

Level Up, whose aim is to promote gender equality and abolish sexism wants Facebook to take harassment more seriously, Jane Starling, the campaign director said, "“Level Up is calling on Facebook to listen to women and move faster to keep us safe online."

READ MORE: Here are 5 great ways to be a better person on the internet

“This means firstly updating their harassment policy to recognise the nuances and spectrum that different types of harassment fall on, and secondly: making it easier for victims of harassment to report their abuse,” she said.

Facebook has since claimed to have had made these regulations and released the following statement.

“We work with women’s safety organisations here in the UK and have developed features that prevent unwanted contact, the option to ignore a messenger conversation, and the ability to hide or delete comments,” a spokesperson said.

“Our community standards do not allow bullying and harassment, and we remove content, profiles and pages when we are made aware of it. If there is a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety, we remove content, disable accounts, and work with law enforcement.”

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