Ofcom leader: ‘Tech companies need to take women’s safety seriously’

Credit: Piqsels

Regulator Ofcom said tech companies needed to do more to protect women on the internet after a study into the country’s online lives found they were disproportionately affected by online abuse.

In its annual Online Nation report, the watchdog found that women are less confident about their online safety than men, more negatively affected by discriminatory, hateful and trolling content, and feel less able to have a voice and share opinions online.

Its chief executive, Dame Melanie Dawes, said it’s up to the tech companies that create the sites and apps used by millions of people in the UK to make the online world a safer space for women and girls. .

“The message from women going online is loud and clear – they are less confident about their personal safety online and feel the negative effects of harmful content like trolling more deeply,” she said. “We urge tech companies to take women’s online safety concerns seriously and put people’s safety at the heart of their services. This includes listening to user feedback when designing their services and the algorithms that serve content. »

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The report, which surveyed 6,619 online users aged 13 to 85, found that women spend more than a quarter of their waking hours online and are avid users of social media platforms.

However, while the study found that the majority of people say the benefits of being online outweigh the risks, women were considerably less likely than men to agree: 63% vs. 71 %.

Similarly, fewer women said they were confident they would not be harmed online (64% vs. 73% of men), while female participants said they felt less able to share their opinions and share their opinions. have a voice online (42% versus 48% of men).

The report found that women were more likely to be exposed to content related to negative body image, excessive dieting or eating disorders than men, while men were more likely to be exposed to scams, misinformation and violent content.

Ofcom noted that the Online Safety Bill, which was introduced in Westminster in March, will require technology companies to ensure that all users are better protected online.

He added that “as an online regulator, Ofcom will ensure that technology companies fulfill their obligations to improve user safety while defending the great things of the internet, including freedom of expression” .

Mara R. Wilmoth