The report details a list of 26 interventions that technology platforms, governments, civil society organizations and the media can take to make meaningful progress towards ending online violence against women in politics. 

Meedan Program Manager and Content Moderation Lead Kat Lo is the expert who contributed to shaping the platform interventions. “Meedan’s work on building infrastructure to help journalists and platforms respond to violence and political events at scale has made it clear how critical the online safety of women is for creating greater equity in politics,” said Lo. “This report sets up a pathway to reduce the spread of violent content against women in politics globally.”

Women in politics are often targeted with threats, harassment, hate speech, and other forms of violence and abuse online, and the report found that the effect of this violence is that women desist from participating in politics. This is not an accident, it is intentional. 

“Authoritarians and illiberal actors increasingly use online violence – including gendered disinformation – deliberately as a political tactic to silence the voice and undermine the agency of those women and girls who are intent on being politically active,” said Sandra Pepera, Senior Associate and Director of Gender, Women and Democracy at NDI.

World Internet Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the importance of creating an internet that is safe for all users. To compile the interventions, Meedan and NDI gathered feedback through roundtables in seven countries (Brazil, Colombia, Georgia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, and Ukraine) with over 90 women in politics and public life. 

Proposed platform interventions include: 

  • Measure the prevalence of gendered abuse and share data through corporate transparency reports.
  • Contribute to and use a shared industry global lexicon repository on gender issues.
  • Develop partnerships to address the amplification of false, non-consensual, or manipulated visual media of women-identifying leaders through fact-checking networks and image hashing services.
  • Establish responsive national-level help desks for women in politics.
  • Provide research partners with sustained access to data on online violence against women.

The interventions list provides a menu of solutions that can be tailored to fit each country’s unique political and legal contexts. The report will be released in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Ukrainian.

This project is part of a broader program at Meedan that runs training, research and field collaborations to better understand and dissect hate and harassment among different groups of platform users.

Read the report here:

Content Moderation
  1. Online conversations are heavily influenced by news coverage, like the 2022 Supreme Court decision on abortion. The relationship is less clear between big breaking news and specific increases in online misinformation.
  2. The tweets analyzed were a random sample qualitatively coded as “misinformation” or “not misinformation” by two qualitative coders trained in public health and internet studies.
  3. This method used Twitter’s historical search API
  4. The peak was a significant outlier compared to days before it using Grubbs' test for outliers for Chemical Abortion (p<0.2 for the decision; p<0.003 for the leak) and Herbal Abortion (p<0.001 for the decision and leak).
  5. All our searches were case insensitive and could match substrings; so, “revers” matches “reverse”, “reversal”, etc.
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Published on
October 27, 2022