To kick off the 67th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the United Kingdom and United States, as members of the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse (Global Partnership), co-hosted a high-level roundtable discussion on countering gendered disinformation in the face of global threats to progress made on the rights of women, girls, and LGBTQI+ persons. Participants included a select group of experts from civil society, research and academia, and philanthropy, as well as women public figures with lived experience as the targets of online threats and smear campaigns.
The group discussed the ways in which women and LGBTQI+ journalists, politicians, and human rights defenders are disproportionately impacted by online threats and attacks, which are amplified and intensified by technology platforms and the viral flow of information on digital media, and further fueled by print media outlets promoting online content. Several participants shared how they have been targeted by gendered disinformation – frequently in tandem with other forms of technology-facilitated gender-based violence, such as doxing and cyberstalking – in deliberate attempts to discredit, intimidate, and silence them. Authoritarian actors use such campaigns as a simultaneous assault on the rights of women and girls, and on democracy. The discussion underscored the corrosive effects of online misogyny and disinformation on democracies worldwide, and explored various approaches to countering the perpetuation, including the role for regulation, safety by design, and public campaigns to raise awareness.
These and other insights will guide the work of the Global Partnership as it marks its one-year anniversary since launching at last year’s CSW, and reflect a growing global momentum to work across boundaries and borders to achieve meaningful change and safer experiences for women and girls online.