Domestic violence opponents want social media crackdown

They say websites need to take more responsibility to quash online abuse.
They say websites need to take more responsibility to quash online abuse. Photo credit: Getty

New research from Amnesty International shows one in three Kiwi women experience harassment online, with 75 percent saying they struggle to sleep well because of it.

Around 49 percent of those who experienced online abuse say they feared for their physical safety, and 32 percent feared for the safety of their families.

Domestic violence opponents say the psychological impacts of online harassment can often be worse than physical abuse. Jill Proudfoot from Shine says it puts many women in a dangerously vulnerable position.

"Anyone who can't sleep can't function at their best level," she says.

"It'll be affecting their work, family life; anything they try to do when they're sleep-deprived is much more difficult as anyone who has had a young baby knows."

Ms Proudfoot says social media websites need to take more responsibility to quash online abuse, as her own organisation is far too often being used as a channel by abusers.

"We can block that fairly quickly but sometimes we might miss it for a little while before it's gone, and then that's another safe forum they thought they had they can't use anymore," she says.

She believes removing abusive content doesn't go far enough.

"If it's a person-by-person response to people who have been abused, that's not ever going to solve the problem," she says.

"There has to be a systemic approach, and those big providers are ideally placed to stop people."

Newshub.