Facebook, Google, TikTok and Twitter pledge to improve women's safety online

Facebook, Google, TikTok and Twitter pledge to improve women’s safety online

FacebookGoogleTikTok and Twitter have committed to battle online abuse and improve women’s safety on their platforms. The four tech giants made the promises during the UN Generation Equality Forum in Paris.

The pledge follows four consultations arranged by the Web Foundation that took place over 11 months. The organization than ran a few policy design workshops in April to “develop prototypes that center the experiences of women most impacted by online abuse.” Two core themes emerged: Curation, with a broad recommendation to “build better ways for women to curate their safety online,” and Reporting, with a call to “implement improvements to reporting systems.”

The tech companies promised to offer users more granular settings over who can see, comment on, reply to or share posts. Easier navigation and access to safety features, simpler and more accessible language across the user interface, and “proactively reducing the amount of abuse” that women encounter are also among the commitments.

As for reporting, Facebook, Google, TikTok, and Twitter say they’ll enable users to have the option of tracking and managing the reports they file as well, as having more ways for women to access support and help as they go through the reporting process. The other commitments include “enabling greater capacity to address context and/or language” and “providing more policy and product guidance when reporting abuse.”

According to the Web Foundation, the companies pledged to implement their solutions within a certain time frame. They’ll provide insights and data on how they’re carrying out those commitments. The Web Foundation will publish annual reports on their progress as well.

More than 200 prominent figures have signed an open letter to the CEOs of the four companies, urging them to take action based on the promises. Among those who have signed the letter are actors Emma Watson and Gillian Anderson, UK Members of Parliament Diane Abbott and Jess Phillips, Creative Commons CEO Catherine Stihler, and ex-Australia prime minister Julia Gillard.

The Web Foundation says 38 percent of those who identify as women have experienced online abuse. The figure rises to 45 percent for Gen Z and Millennial women. Women of color and those in LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized communities often experience much worse abuse.

Meanwhile, Facebook just opened a Women’s Safety Hub that explains the platform’s tools for bolstering privacy and security. It will also run training sessions to help people harness those tools. In addition, the hub has resources for victims of abuse. Facebook developed the hub with the support of nonprofit partners around the globe. The hub’s resources will soon be available in 55 languages.