Instagram & Plan International join hands with girl activists to address online harassment

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Instagram will hear from a global panel of girl activists on how the platform can address online harassment, in collaboration with Plan International. Insights will also be shared with Facebook and WhatsApp as part of this initiative.

Plan’s Listening Sessions, which are being announced on International Day of the Girl , will feature a diverse group of 15 youth activists. The Listening Sessions will give policy and product teams from Instagram — as well as other Facebook platforms — an opportunity to hear directly from girls about their lived experiences on social media, creating a dialogue about more ways the companies can continue to invest in protecting girls from bullying and harassment.

The panelists will consult a broad network of girls and civil society organizations to offer insights from thousands of girls and young women worldwide. This partnership comes after Plan International’s new report shines a light on the harassment and abuse of girls and young women on social media.

Plan surveyed 14,000 girls in 22 countries, including the U.S., Brazil, Benin and India, revealing more than half (58%) have been harassed or abused on social media. The organization spoke to 1,165 girls and young women between the age of 15 and 24 in the U.S. and found 43% reported that they have experienced some form of online harassment on social media platforms.

The research was carried out by Plan International, in support of its vision of a world where girls and young women, in all their diversity, have the power to be leaders and shape the world around them.

Tessie San Martin, President and CEO of Plan International USA, said, “Now more than ever, our lives have moved online,” says . “Harassment and abuse of girls and young women has not only moved online, it has increased. We need effective ways to report abuse to ensure that everyone is safe using digital platforms. This partnership will allow Instagram to hear directly from those who know the problem best – girls themselves.”

Cindy Southworth, Head of Women’s Safety at Facebook, said, “Abuse of women on the internet is a serious problem, one we tackle in a variety of ways — through technology that identifies and removes potentially abusive content, by enforcing strict policies and by talking with experts and people experiencing harassment or abuse.

“We know this is a particular challenge and really value the opportunity to work with Plan International and hear directly from young women affected by these issues so we can improve and ensure we are a platform where women feel safe,” Southworth added.

The group, which is made up of 10 activists from Plan International’s Global Youth Networks, and five representatives from civil society organizations, will include girls from Japan, Brazil, India, UK, U.S., Spain, Germany, Benin, Kenya and the Philippines.

Plan International is also asking governments worldwide to implement specific laws to deal with online gender-based violence and ensure girls who suffer it have access to justice.

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