“Is it just me, or do women and minorities face more hate online? Why is that? How can we stop it?”
*Trigger Warning: This blog post contains distressing facts about and descriptions of harassment against women and marginalized groups.*
Let me start by thanking you for asking such an important question. In that vein, I want to acknowledge that while past blog posts/videos have aired on the side of fun, this week’s content will be a bit more serious. (Don’t worry — there’s plenty of hilarious videos ahead of us!) That’s not only because this is a serious issue, but because one of the main obstacles to it being effectively tackled is its lack of attention, its minimization in the mainstream. As I said in my TikTok, that needs to change — and that change starts here.
With that said: no, it’s not just you — and if I were to guess, any young person reading this blog post would 100% agree with me. And you don’t just have to take our word for it! The digital world can sometimes be contentious, but there’s one thing almost everyone can agree on: the internet has its pros and cons, but generally speaking, the cons are so much worse for women and marginalized communities. I hope the stats in my TikTok made that clear. Here are a few other shocking facts: in 2019, 37% of adolescents reported being cyberbullied; for LGBTQ+ youth, that number was closer to 50%. For women, online abuse is not only rampant, it’s dangerous: female-identifying users often receive direct or indirect threats of physical or sexual violence and harassing comments about their identity. And women of color are especially impacted: they’re 34% more likely to be the targets of harassment than white women.
So…what’s going on?! Why is this happening? Well, it’s hard to pin down any one reason; indeed, it’s likely a bunch of factors that contribute to this reality. It’s certainly true that part of the answer are real-life gender and racial inequities/discrimination finding their way online; it’s also true that platforms need to do more on moderation, especially as it relates to disproportionately targeted groups. But it’s also internet design, from 1) anonymity, to 2) the impersonal experience of speaking from behind a screen — as opposed to someone’s face, to 3) the fast-paced, “think-later” culture that tends to dominate the digital world.
Tackling this issue, then, won’t be easy. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We can use our voices and creative ideas to advocate for and build the internet we want. For example, I’ve personally tackled that last issue — a lack of thought and care online — with my patented app, ReThink. (We stop cyberbullying over 93% of the time, before it happens!) With more voices pointing out inequity when they see it, we can create a movement that facilitates structural and digital change.
As always, before I sign off, here’s your weekly reminder to share a note, question, or anything else on your mind here. Your topic might be featured in an upcoming TikTok/blog post! Don’t forget: anything you want to chat about is fair game, so feel empowered to share whatever you’d like. Let’s keep preaching the #InternetTruth — and in this community, as well as others, spreading a little kindness and support online. ????
Thank you for reading along this week, especially as we tackled an important topic.. See you again next Tuesday,