Disinformation has emerged in recent years as the primary mode for right-wing radicalization, with the spread of hate speech, racism, sexism, misogyny, and more. Social media and tech platforms have become the new homes for hate. With this emergence, UltraViolet has once again stepped up to the challenge to hold Big Tech accountable for its actions and influence in spreading sexist disinformation and empowering everyday users on the internet to fight back.
According to PEW Research, three quarters of Black and Latinx people and two-thirds of women say that online harassment is a major problem. Hate and disinformation online are used by groups like the Proud Boys, the 3%ers, and more to recruit and radicalize everyday users. And ultimately, its algorithms used by social media platforms which make it easier for users to fall down the Rabbit Hole and the profits earned from disinformation, clickbait, and conspiracy theories which prevent change.
Disinformation, misinformation and bias causes serious harm and “can inspire both online and offline attacks” (UltraViolet Disinfo Media Accountability Guide, 2020). It also often focuses on those most marginalized in society, particularly Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, women and girls, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and people belonging to religious minorities, all of whom are at a greater risk of becoming targets of disinformation campaigns, hate speech, and violence.
At UltraViolet, we know that the line between the online and “real” world is permeable. Online speech and disinformation has real world consequences. Social media platforms and tech companies have a responsibility to address the transformation of misinformation to disinformation to mitigate harm before it can become malinformation– what ultimately leads violence, harm, hate speech, and harassment on- and offline. That’s why we advocate for bad actors to be deplatformed from social media platforms. We know that deplatforming not only makes online spaces safer for those most marginalized by society, but it actually works at curbing the spread of disinformation and hate speech. “Deplatforming is effective in minimizing the reach of disinformation and extreme speech” (Deplatforming the far-right: An analysis of YouTube and BitChute∗, Rauchfleisch and Kaiser).
Our work on disinformation is rooted in fighting for an anti-racist, anti-misogynist, feminist future. From our beginning nearly a decade ago, UltraViolet has been at the forefront in the fight against disinformation and media accountability. From the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Google and Cost-per-Click ads, and deceptive anti-choice advertising, to taking on Donald Trump, the Disinformer-in-Chief, and the spread of sexism and misogyny on platforms like Reddit, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, we have a track record of showing up in solidarity with those most impacted by lies and disinformation.
There is so much more work to be done to ensure an online and offline world free from sexism, misogyny, racism, and bigotry. UltraViolet is proud to show up alongside our partners in this ever evolving world of digital organizing, policy advocacy, and movement building. We hope you join us in taking the pledge to stand in solidarity with truth and justice in this ongoing fight against misogyny and hate.