This article by Daisy Doardo was published in the Guernsey Press on 27th July 2021

 

As Marketing Manager at Tiger Law and Tiger HR, it’s my job to spot opportunities to promote and market our brands. I am constantly testing out different social media platforms in my personal capacity to find what works, before implementing it in business. For this reason, I experimented with the social media platform, TikTok.

I started by posting videos about mental health, life and law. I kept it simple and fun. One day, I stumbled across an alarming fact and decided to post it. Women contribute £700bn in unpaid labour to the UK economy every year. I contrasted this with the financial services sector, which contributes £132bn per year. Figures taken from the article Women’s unpaid labour is worth £140bn to the UK economy, analysis finds (inews.co.uk) based on a study by the Young women’s Trust based on ONS data.

Nothing could have prepared me for the onslaught that was to come.

‘Grow up.. Women are the most privileged ungrateful selfish race on this earth.’ ‘Deluded species.’ ‘Death to your family.’

Now, disagree with the source of the figures that I posted. Fine. But these people were not attacking what I was saying, they were attacking who I am.

The comments racked up into the hundreds.

Some of the comments made me laugh. Imagine how bitter and disappointing your life must be to spend your time abusing people online? But they exposed a serious issue. When there are no consequences for misogyny, abusive men are empowered. The same goes for racists, homophobes, anti-Semetics and in fact, anyone targeting a marginalised group. Algorithms show your content to people who are likely to engage with it. This can be positive or it can be very, very negative.

‘TikTok Cares’ Taken from Suicide & self-harm | TikTok

TikTok claims to be a ‘positive and supportive community’ and that ‘the safety and well-being of the TikTok community is [their] top priority.’

However, to block an account or report a comment, you first have to read it.

This exposes a gaping hole in their claim. If ‘TikTok cares’, why are users forced to endure reading this abuse?

Recently we have seen posts relating to COVID19 on Instagram and Twitter automatically flagged by the platforms with links to accurate information. Have you noticed this?

Why can’t this same technology be used to flag online abuse? Often, the same insults and slurs are used repeatedly. Surely AI (which is already crawling through the content we post) could be taught to pick up on abusive language and automatically block the comments from being published.

Another problem is the creation of anonymous accounts. One thing I noticed about all of the misogynistic men that I blocked on TikTok was their anonymity. Perhaps they had been blocked from the platform before for abusing users and simply created a new account?

 

I am unsure of the solutions, but the problem is clear. With a user base dominated by teenagers and rapidly rising rates of self-harm and suicide, something needs to be done to combat online abuse. 

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