Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook
Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google
Shou Zi Chew, CEO, TikTok
Jack Dorsey, CEO, Twitter
We write to you to ask that you urgently prioritise the safety of women on your platforms.
Today at the Generation Equality Forum in Paris, world leaders come together to agree on a plan to advance women’s rights — the most important gathering of its kind in 25 years. This is a historic opportunity for you, the CEOs of some of the world’s most powerful tech platforms, to tackle one of the biggest barriers to gender equality: the pandemic of online abuse against women and girls.
The commitments you make today should be seen as a promise to women and girls around the world that you will decisively deal with the abuse that they are subject to on your plat forms.
The scale of the problem is huge: 38% of women globally have directly experienced online abuse. This figure rises to 45% for Gen Zs and Millennials. For women of colour, for Black women in particular, for women from the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalised groups — the abuse is often far worse. The consequences can be devastating.
The internet is the town square of the 21st century. It is where debate takes place, commu nities are built, products are sold and reputations are made. But the scale of online abuse means that, for too many women, these digital town squares are unsafe. This is a threat to progress on gender equality.
A huge volume of this abuse takes place on social media platforms — and its reach is global. Your decisions shape the way billions of people experience life online. With your incredible financial resources and engineering might, you have the unique capability and responsibility to ensure your platforms prevent, rather than fuel, this abuse.
No quick-fix will cure the problem, but there are many avenues to make significant progress. For over a year, you have engaged with civil society and government experts from over 35 countries to tackle online abuse. This has been an important step forward, demonstrating the power of co-creating solutions informed by a wide range of partners, including women who have directly experienced abuse.
Now it is vital to put into action two priorities women have said are critical for their safety — more control of their experiences on your platforms, and better reporting systems:
Give people greater control to manage their safety. Rather than a one-size-fits-all experi ence, women should have more control over who can interact with them on tech platforms, as well as more choice over what, when and how they see content online. These tools should be easy to find and simple to use.
Improve your systems for reporting abuse. Current tools need to be improved so women can easily report abuse and track the progress of these reports. For example, dashboards that show users the status of all their reports in one place, features to guide them through the reporting process, and tools that offer women access to additional support when it’s needed, could make a huge difference.
Commitments you make today to address these two areas are a positive and necessary step. How you take these forward also matters. As you work towards these goals, we’ll be watching: we will recognise when you make progress and hold you to account when you don’t. Your progress against these commitments will be tracked annually.
Imagine what you can achieve if you follow through on commitments to build safer platforms: an online world where a journalist can engage with feedback on her reporting, not assas sinations of her character. Where a politician may read complaints about her policies, but not threats of rape and murder. Where a young woman can share what she wants to on her terms, knowing there are systems to keep her safe and hold harassers accountable.
If you build this better internet for women, you will build a better internet for everyone. You have the way. Now show the world that you also have the will.