CST is proud to support new #ReclaimtheInternet campaign

26 May 2016 by CST

Reclaim the Internet, the campaign to raise awareness and tackle abuse online, was launched this morning by Yvette Cooper MP and a panel of experts on abuse online. The campaign is focused on ending misogyny, sexual harassment and abuse online aimed at women, but the campaign is also a platform to bring together various groups dealing with abuse online, including CST.

Yvette Cooper MP opened the panel by stressing that “we would never” stand by when we see abuse in the streets, and asked why we would stand by it when happens online? Conservative Minister Maria Miller MP followed by emphasising that, after recalling a case of horrific online abuse she helped a constituent with, only with both political and industry will can something be done to tackle online abuse.

Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder, also addressed the audience, stating that the online encyclopedia also has problems with abuse. However, the community of users ensure that anyone propagating abuse can be deleted or stopped from engaging on the platform. Wales warned that companies need to take responsibility for their various online platforms, to ensure governments don’t have to – which could lead to removing dissent under the guise of removing abusive content.

Fiyaz Mugal of Tell Mama UK, who tackle anti-Muslim abuse, commented on the negative effects of abuse online including the fact that it can draw in and influence young and vulnerable individuals. Statistically 70% of abuse recorded by Tell Mama occurs online, with the majority aimed at women who are often the target of sexualised anger and abuse. Fiyaz echoed CST’s concerns over the lack of removal of both antisemitism and anti-Muslim sentiment on social media platforms. He argued this gives makes Muslims, and Jews, believe that nothing will be done to tackle the hate, and gives the view to agitators that they can get away with it as nothing will be done. Social media platforms, who Fiyaz argued bring in vast profits, need to re-invest this money to support minority communities, promote counter-speech and to remove abuse from their platforms.

Stella Creasy MP stressed that when someone is being dealt with by the law for abuse online, they must be dealt with through harassment laws, which would happen in the offline world, rather than simply the Malicious Communications Act. Additionally, a representative from the think-tank Demos discussed a report looking at abuse on Twitter and revealed that out of 1.46 million tweets recorded over a short period, 650,000 were found to be abusive.

Other contributors to the campaign launch this morning included Justine Roberts, founder of Mumsnet; journalist Nesrine Malik; Laura Higgins, Online Safety Operations Manager at the Revenge Porn Helpline; Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson; and Labour’s Jess Phillips. A representative from NASUWUT and Girlguilding UK also addressed the audience.

Danny Stone of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism told the panel that during the Israel Gaza conflict of Summer 2014 there was a huge spike of antisemitic abuse on social media, and stressed the need to deal with repeat offenders. CST’s Dave Rich commented on CST’s work to tackle antisemitic abuse online and stressed that the problem with dealing with it included the inconsistency between the Police, the CPS and the social platforms. He also outlined the issues with anonymity afforded to abusers online and the problems this raises, particularly for students, for example with regard to the Yik Yak platform.

CST is proud to support this initiative and hopes that it brings about support for victims, an awareness of abuse online and a safe space for victims to report and discuss their experiences.