About 100 current and former women political leaders from the U.S. and abroad countries signed and sent a letter to Facebook executives, urging the social media giant to make more deliberate moves to protect women, particularly women politicians and candidates, from online hate speech and harassment.
The official note originates from the latest manipulated, viral video targeting Pelosi to make her appear intoxicated (which Facebook added a warning to, but did not remove) as well as pushes CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to stop the amplification of gendered disinformation through the platform.
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., a co-chair of the caucus who helped spearhead the efforts, explained that she has been driven to pursue this work since earlier this year as she spoke to Lucina Di Meco, the author of the #ShePersisted study, released in 2019. The research, also highlighted in the policymakers’ letter, encompassed interviews with 88 women leaders in civil society, politics, television, technology, journalism, and an analysis of the 2020 primaries and more. It ultimately revealed female candidates are attacked more often than male candidates by fake news accounts, and that social media presents a double-edged sword for female politicians.
Speier also said she has been working with Di Meco and other advocates to address not only the rampant misogyny that women in politics and public service suffer, but also the emergence of gender disinformation campaigns on social media platforms.
In addition, the issue is not just limited to America, where social media has become the number one place for psychological violence. Results of research also revealed 42% of women parliamentarians reported seeing their extremely humiliating or sexually charged images disseminated and spread via online social platforms.
In the correspondence, the lawmakers urge Facebook to remove manipulated media targeting women in public service and posts that threaten women with violence; disable accounts behind such posts and refer offenders to law enforcement; end any accounts that repeatedly threaten, dox or use false identities to attack women political leaders; eliminate malicious hate speech against women; and more aggressively confront gendered disinformation.