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Majority believe government should demand social media firms address abuse of women and girls

NEARLY three-quarters of the public believe the government should put more pressure on social media firms to address online abuse of women and girls, a new poll suggests. 

Leading women’s organisations are calling on ministers to make changes to the Online Safety Bill to include measures tackling abuse against women and girls. 

End Violence Against Women (EVAW) has accused the government of excluding women from the proposed legislation, which is expected to force social media firms to abide by a duty of care to users.

A YouGov poll commissioned by the group and released today found that 74 per cent of the public believe ministers need to do more to tackle the issue, increasing to 78 per cent for women respondents. 

The poll was published alongside a new report by EVAW highlighting how the threat of online abuse can force women and girls to self-censor, restricting their freedom online. 

It comes after EVAW published a study yesterday showing women are 27 times more likely than men to be harassed online. Black women are 84 per cent more likely  to receive online abuse than white, it added. 

EVAW director Andrea Simon said that while the new Bill was being heralded by ministers as “world leading,” the legislation as it stands “will be wasted if it doesn’t take into account the realities of women and girls’ lives online.”

EVAW is among 13 women’s groups calling for ministers to ensure the new legislation is robust and addresses the daily harms facing women and girls.

“These recommendations come from experts in online abuse,” she said. “The government must heed their advice or half the population will continue to face threats of abuse that restrict their freedoms online.”