Support Someone Learn More About Online Violence

Online violence creates a hostile online environment with the aim of shaming, intimidating or degrading users. International research has shown that women are disproportionately targeted as well as people of color, non-binary people, LGBTQIA+ communities, and ethnic and religious minorites. Online abuse comprises a range of tactics and malicious behaviors that may include sharing embarrassing or cruel content about a person, impersonation, doxxing and violent threats, among others.

Learn more about online violence, its effects, and how to help with the following resources.


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What is online abuse?

PEN America describes online abuse as the “pervasive or severe targeting of an individual or group online through harmful behavior.” This glossary of terms describes abusive tactics that writers and journalists face, along with examples and tips on what to do. HeartMob also has a detailed guide explaining what online harassment is and who is affected by it. 

Who is targeted?

An international report by UNESCO and the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) found that women journalists are disproportionately targeted by online abuse with 73 percent reporting that they had been harassed online. Research by the Anti-defamation League (ADL) showed that online violence disproportionately targets the LGBTQ+ community, ethnic and religious minorities, and women.

In a 2019 survey, the Committee to Protect Journalists found that online harassment is the biggest safety threat for 90 percent of female and gender non-conforming journalists surveyed in the United States and Canada. 

Journalists covering topics like corruption or topics related to gender or considered as taboos are especially targeted at an international level, according to a report from  Reporters without Borders.

What are the consequences?

Seventy three percent of female journalists world-wide have experienced online violence, states UNESCO and ICFJ. And this is having a serious impact on freedom of expression, according to a study published in 2018 by the IWMF and TrollBusters, which found that nearly one third of female journalists envision leaving the profession because of online violence. 

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