Safer Internet Day 2020: Together for a better internet

The Jo Cox Foundation is excited to support Safer Internet Day this year, joining hundreds of others to promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology.

Through our work in building a better public life, free from abuse and intimidation, we continuously witness the harm that the negative use of the internet can have. While we celebrate the progress of digital technology - with open access to knowledge, debate and discussion - we cannot ignore the fact that the internet has become an increasingly toxic space in which polarised views and hate speech can proliferate.

Instances of abuse and intimidation online, particularly on social media, have become particularly prevalent in recent years, with violent language and personal threats alarmingly commonplace. In addition, online abuse is clearly gendered, with women disproportionately on the receiving end. A 2017 study by Amnesty International found that 1 in 5 women in the UK have received abuse online, with 55% saying that they experienced anxiety, stress or panic attacks as a result. Many faced other psychological consequences, such as lowered self-esteem and a lack of agency in their ability to respond to the abuse.

Public figures, particularly women and those from minority backgrounds, also typically receive exceptionally high levels of online abuse. We need only look to the very recent example of Tracy Brabin, the Labour MP for Jo Cox’s former constituency of Batley & Spen, who described a wave of ‘vitriolic’ abuse online following negative media coverage of her choice of clothing. (Tracy has turned a negative into a huge positive, auctioning the dress she was wearing online in aid of Girlguiding - who have done some fantastic research into the growing fears of younger women and girls of online abuse.)

The personal and societal impacts of online abuse are immense, with many young women and girls citing a fear of abuse and intimidation as a reason to avoid a career in public life. We all have a responsibility to change this, whether on an individual or a collective basis. In raising awareness of, and tackling, these pressing issues, we can strengthen the future of our democracy by ensuring equal representation of people from all backgrounds. In the end, a safer and kinder online space brings benefits to all of us - and ensures we thrive as a vibrant, diverse and inclusive nation.

If you would like to join us in supporting Safer Internet Day 2020, head over to our newly launched Instagram account (@jocoxfoundation) and take our quiz to find out more about these issues and what you can do to help! All answers, including sources, will be posted later today.

Eleanor Harrison - Partnerships and External Affairs Manager

11/02/2020

Safer Internet Day Quiz

Questions:

Question 1.
In the 2019 election, candidates would receive roughly 130,000 tweets a day!
What percentage of these tweets were insulting or abusive?

  • 1/2
  • 1/6
  • 1/20
  • 1/50


Question 2.
How much online abuse did candidates receive compared to the 2017 election?

  • Half
  • The same
  • Double
  • Quadruple


Question 3.
Social media companies (Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, etc) are liable for illegal content online posted on their platforms.

  • True
  • False


Question 4.
The posting of death threats, threats of violence, and incitement of racial hatred on social media is illegal:

  • True
  • False


Question 5. 
Senior male politicians are more likely to be insulted online than their female counterparts.

  • True
  • False


Question 6.
How many women in the UK have received abuse online?

  • 1/2
  • 1/5
  • 1/25
  • 1/50

Answers:

Question 1.
In the 2019 election, candidates would receive roughly 130,000 tweets a day!
What percentage of these tweets were insulting or abusive?

Answer: 1/6

Source: PoliMonitor, 2017


Question 2.
How much online abuse did candidates receive compared to the 2017 election?

Answer: Quadruple

Source: PoliMonitor, 2017


Question 3.
Social media companies are liable for illegal content online posted on their platforms.


False: The key controlling legislation in the UK is the EU’s 2000 E-Commerce Directive, which was developed before the current main social media companies even existed.The E-Commerce Directive (the Directive) allows ‘information society services’ providers, such as internet service providers and social media companies, to be exempt from criminal or civil liability when their services are used to commit an offence – for example, publishing or transmitting illegal content.

Source: Committee on Standards in Public Life: Intimidation in Public Life A Review 2017 p.13

Question 4.
The posting of death threats, threats of violence, and incitement of racial hatred on social media is illegal:

Answer: True: The posting of death threats, threats of violence, and incitement of racial hatred directed towards anyone (including Parliamentary candidates) on social media is unambiguously illegal. Many other instances of intimidation, incitement to violence and abuse online are likely to be illegal.
Source: Committee on Standards in Public Life: Intimidation in Public Life A Review 2017


Question 5. 
Senior male politicians are more likely to be insulted online than their female counterparts.

Answer: False: Senior female politicians are three times more likely to be insulted on Twitter because of their gender than men.
Source: Digital Harassment of Women Leaders: October 2018


Question 6.
How many women in the UK have received abuse online?

Answer: 1/5

Source: Amnesty International 2017