Last night I asked a question about cyber hate on Q & A. I was invited to submit a question late last week. The topic was social media. Watch the whole episode here.
In the ten or so years I’ve been writing professionally – mostly online, I’ve experienced a lot of online abuse – from anonymous people, and also from some people I know.
Earlier this year I had a lot of appearance-related hate speech on Twitter and on Instagram, and I’ve also had death threats on Twitter and my blog in previous years. My photo has been misused on Reddit. A couple of women would leave bad reviews for Organisations I had spoken at. And I went to court to stop a man whom I knew from abusing and defaming me on Facebook.
Recently, the abuse has been public, defamatory, ongoing, long term and targeted- from people I know – on the bullies’ own social media platforms. Its been covert and overt.
The abuse has impacted my mental and physical health and my work – giving me panic attacks and making me fear for my safety.
When I have reported it to the social media platforms, the response almost every time is that it does not breach community standards.
Part of this response, I think, is because those moderating the hate speech don’t recognise it as it pertains to marginalised people. Ableist abuse is often dismissed and not easy to spot if you’re not disabled, for example.
An online community is real life, and these aren’t the standards we should accept in the community.
And while I acknowledge hat not everyone who uses social media has had bad experiences, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening to others.
I really do look forward to the changes the eSafety Commissioner has more power to act on online abuse
I also want to add that social media has, for the most part been *amazing* for me. I’ve found community. Found work. Found myself. I love connecting and learning new things and growing. I’ve made hundreds of friends online.
My own online spaces are generally safe, because I’ve cultivated that community. Thank you for being here and for your ongoing support.
Lastly, social media is vital for many disabled and chronically ill people to connect and to find information – because it can be hard to leave the house.
Thanks for having me, Q+A.
Video: a short clip from ABC Q+A – Hamish introduces my question, I ask the question from my backyard, and panelists discuss it.