There’s a frightening new pandemic sweeping the globe, and the United Nations is urging leaders around the world to address it.
The UN’s Broadband Commission for Digital Development issued a worldwide wake up call to prevent what they have labored cyber VAWG (violence against women and girls).
The study found that 85% of the women around the world viewed the Internet as a tool that guarantees them freedom. Yet 73% of women online have been abused or harassed in some manner.
“Online violence has subverted the original positive promise of the internet’s freedoms and in too many circumstances has made it a chilling space that permits anonymous cruelty and facilitates harmful acts towards women and girls,” said UN Under-Secretary-General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “We want to reclaim and expand the opportunities it offers. That means recognizing the scale and depth of the damage being done – and taking strong, concerted steps to call it – and stop it. Abuse online is still abuse, with potency and very real consequences.”
Under the current laws, which currently governs most of the major social media sites, the platforms themselves cannot legally be held responsible for their users’ actions.
To solve this issue, the United Nations has recommended that governments order influential media platforms to become licensed and police every post and comment.
According to the UN’s proposal, social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram would be forced to register with the government. They would then be licensed and required to regulate the contents of their platform.
The report will surely upset a growing movement of activists who are pushing back against claims that the Internet leads to misogyny, racism and violence.
Everyone agrees online trolling is a serious problem. However, how to solve what is known as the “Overton window” which is the range of ideas the public considers acceptable, becomes a bigger question.
The mass shootings on Umpqua Community College campus in Oregon will only add ammunition for both sides of this profound, deadly blame game.
“We can educate people about gender violence or teach “digital citizenship” in schools, but persuading social networks to police everything their users post is next to impossible,” noted Caitlyn Dewey, the Washington Times Digital cultural critic.
Regardless of where the politicians stand, the proposal is frightening insight into how the Internet could be policed in the very near future.