- Amnesty International has launched a #ToxicTwitter campaign to accompany a newly-released report detailing Twitter’s failure to create an environment that respects women’s human rights.
- As part of the campaign, Amnesty projected images of real abusive tweets received by women on the Twitter platform.
- The campaign launch coincides with the ever-growing #MeToo and #TimesUp movements that combats sexual harassment and assault.
Amnesty International, the human rights watchdog, has singled out Twitter for turning a blind eye to rampant harassment and abuse of women on its platform.
The organisation released a 77-page report on Tuesday titled #ToxicTwitter: Violence and abuse against women online,” that details the results of a 16-month long investigation into the online abuse suffered by women on Twitter.
The report, which represents the first time Amnesty International has focused on a particular social media service, argues that Twitter fails to respect women’s basic rights because of its “inadequate and ineffective response to violence and abuse.”
“Despite repeated promises to clean up the platform, many women are logging onto Twitter to find death threats, rape threats and racist or homophobic slurs littering their feeds,” Azmina Dhrodia, a technology and human rights researcher at Amnesty International writes in the report.
To call attention to the issue, Amnesty International projected images of some of the abusive tweets endured by women onto the outside of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters.
The abundance of abusive, often overtly racist and misogynistic, content on Twitter has been a longstanding problem that the company has struggled to control. Last year, Twitter suspended the accounts of several white supremacists and people affiliated with hate groups. But critics say the company, which once prided itself on its extreme free speech bona fides, continues to be too lax when it comes to fighting abusive content.
“Twitter cannot credibly claim to be on women’s side”
The report is based on interviews with both women and non-gender binary Twitter users in the US and the UK who claim Twitter did not take their accounts of abuse seriously. Amnesty’s says this has caused women to change how they use the social media platform, which can result in them quitting posting altogether. It also outlines various steps it believes Twitter should take to address the issue.
Twitter refutes Amnesty International’s findings.
In a statement given to Business Insider, Vijaya Gadde, Legal, Policy, and Trust and Safety Lead, said “the assertion that Twitter is consciously un-engaged with human rights issues is an unfair representation not just of the facts, but of the ethos of our dedicated teams, and the core mission of the company.”
Twitter, which has roughly 330 million users, has a reporting system in place on the website for users to utilise when they encounter abuse. The company says it has made more than 30 policy changes in the last 16 months to combat hateful conduct.
Amnesty International’s report references Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s appeal earlier this month specifying the company’s determination to remain accountable and to improve the platform’s “conversational health.”
Despite Twitter’s efforts, Amnesty International maintains that there are still big improvements to be made.
“Twitter’s recent initiatives shows that it wants to be a part of this change, but women who’ve experienced abuse on the platform simply aren’t buying it,” said Dhrodia. “Without taking further concrete steps to effectively identify and account for violence and abuse against women on its platform, Twitter cannot credibly claim to be on women’s side.”