35+ Organizations Call Out Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Google Commitments to Generation Equality “Nothing More than a PR Stunt”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, July 1, 2021
CONTACT: Anna Zuccaro | anna@unbendablemedia.com

35+ Organizations Call Out Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Google Commitments to Generation Equality “Nothing More than a PR Stunt”

In New Joint Letter to Zuckerberg, Sandberg, Pappas, Dorsey and Pichai, Groups Argue So-Called “Commitments on Content Moderation and Reporting” Ignore the Root Causes of Misogyny and Racism on Social Platforms

Coalition Welcomes the Acknowledgement of Harassment on Platforms, But Says New Policies Actually Shift the Burden Back on Women to Protect Themselves Online

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, in response to the commitments made by Facebook, Google, TikTok and Twitter to the UN Women’s Generation Equality Forum, a coalition of gender and racial justice groups sent a letter to the CEOs and COOs of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok, Google, and YouTube criticizing the policy actions taken as “little more than a PR stunt,” that “actually shifts the onus onto the very people who experience the abuse.”

The letter, which was organized by UltraViolet, a leading gender-justice group in the United States, explained:

The recommendations from the Web Foundation’s tech policy demonstrate an understanding of the depth, scale and urgency of the problem. Unfortunately, the proposed solutions fail to address the full scope of the problem and fall short of what is truly needed to address gender based violence on your platforms — as well as offline violence that is planned on or inspired by content on your platforms. They shift the burden of preventing online violence and misogynist attacks to the very people most likely to suffer from them.

This is merely a cosmetic change that pushes hate and disinformation into the shadows–while ignoring the root causes of this violence: your platforms and the way that they encourage the spread of hate and disinformation and facilitate harassment.

Existing reporting systems consistently fail to deter bad actors. Hate speech and harassment restrictions are often unenforced and rely on a “notice and take down” model that fails to address the systemic nature of online abuse and puts the onus on the victim to stop the harassment they’re experiencing. Furthermore, a model that relies on taking down individual pieces of content rather than moving to deplatform will be ineffective, given the speed at which content spreads on your platforms. Many of our organizations have direct experience with flagging problematic and violent content directly to your staff, without ever getting action to address it.

By failing to address the root algorithmic causes of these attacks, your platforms are demonstrating that their commitments to combatting online violence against women is performative at best. That is extremely dangerous when online misogyny is proven to fuel gender-based violence, mass shootings, and hate crimes–including attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, and Paris, France; at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.; and in Atlanta, Ga., and Charlottesville, Va.

The power to determine what content people see, whose voices are amplified or excluded, and what will and will not remain on your platforms gives you the ability to influence the worldview of billions of users. If your platforms aren’t safe places for women, BIPOC, LGBTQ folks, people with disabilities, religious minorities, and other marginalized groups to share their voices without risking harassment and violence, then it is clear that your platforms are the problem. We need solutions that center the most impacted and most attacked: women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ people.

Black, Indigenous, women of color, and transgender women especially face an onslaught of racist and misogynist attacks, while you profit off of these harms. Pew Research Center found that three-quarters of Black and Latinx people and two-thirds of women say that online harassment is a major problem.

Your platforms–Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Google–directly benefit from gendered disinformation and the engagement associated with coordinated racist and misogynist attacks. Hate, conspiracies, and disinformation keep people on your platforms and put billions into your pockets, as you profit off of the same hate and lies used by extremist groups like the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters to recruit and radicalize.

And this isn’t a coincidence–it is intentionally built into the business model of your product. The algorithms and policies on all of the major platforms have been created, in large part, by privileged men who recreate their own biases in the algorithms.

READ THE FULL LETTER HERE: https://weareultraviolet.org/putting-the-onus-on-women-is-a-pr-stunt-the-platforms-are-the-problem-2/

Addressed to Mark Zuckerberg (CEO, Facebook), Sheryl Sandberg (COO, Facebook), Jack Dorsey (CEO, Twitter), Vanessa Pappas (COO, Tiktok), Sundar Pichai (CEO, Google) and Susan Wojcicki (CEO, Youtube), the letter expresses why big tech’s response to the Web Foundation’s recommendations for the UN Women’s Generation Equality Forum concerning gender based violence online fails to tackle the full scope of the crisis.

The groups argue that platforms like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Google and YouTube directly benefit from racialized disinformation and the engagement associated with coordinated racist, misogynistic attacks. By failing to address the root algorithmic causes of these attacks, which incentivize and favor false and slanderous content, the platforms are demonstrating that their commitment to combatting online violence against women is performative at best.

Lead by UltraViolet, a leading national gender equity organization, the letter signers include: #ShePersisted, #VOTEPROCHOICE, A/B Partners, Abortion Access Front, Center for Countering Digital Hate, Color Of Change, Courage California, Decode Democracy, Equality Labs, Faithful America, Free Press, Friends of the Earth, GLAAD, Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, Higher Heights For America, Indivisible, Institute for Research on Male Supremacism, Jewish Women International (JWI), Kairos, Lake Oconee Community Church, Make the Road Nevada, Media Matters for America, MediaJustice, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, National Equality Action Team (NEAT), ParentsTogether, ProgressNow New Mexico, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Stop Online Violence Against Women Inc, SumOfUs, Supermajority, Tech Transparency Project, The League, The Sparrow Project, and Women’s March.

“Big Tech’s response to hate and disinformation fully ignores the root causes of violence and abuse on their platforms — the algorithms and business models themselves — while putting the onus on those experiencing the abuse to mitigate these issues on their own,” said Bridget Todd, Communications Director at at UltraViolet, a leading national women’s advocacy organization. “Each of the companies named have already profited billions from the spread of hate and disinformation while also tacitly condoning the same hate-fueled user engagement their ‘recommendations’ are allegedly against. To be clear, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Google and YouTube benefit directly from coordinated racist, misogynistic and bigoted attacks against other users. If the platforms were serious about combating online violence and hate towards women, they would update and actually enforce their hate speech rules to explicitly include misogyny, misogynoir, and transmisogyny and create clear enforcement processes that deplatform bad actors.”

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