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Instagram is Failing to Stop Misogynistic Harassment of High-Profile Women in DMs: Study

Woman looking at her phone

It’s no secret that famous women on Instagram get trolled all the time. From cruel comments on their posts to a myriad of unkind messages in their DMs, celebrity women on the platform tend to get an abundance of online hate. According to a new report, Instagram has failed to act on 9-in-10 reports of misogynistic and threatening DMs, which means the app has not been preventing online abuse targeting women.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) discovered that when it comes to misogynistic harassment and misinformation, Instagram fails to respond and take action to rectify the abuse. The CCDH assessed over 8,700 messages from five celebs on the app, including actress Amber Heard and journalist Bryony Gordon, and found that 90 per cent of the hate was ignored by the platform, despite being reported.

Related: Kanye West suspended from Instagram for 24 hours after using a slur against Trevor Noah.

Famous women on Instagram’s threats are reported to no avail

The CCDH also reported that Instagram allowed 9-in-10 people who sent violent threats to the women who participated in the study to remain online, even after they were reported to Instagram using the app’s tools to combat such threats.

Imran Ahmed, the CEO of CCDH called out Instagram for its lack of action: “There is an epidemic of misogynist abuse taking place in women’s DMs. Meta and Instagram must put the rights of women before profit.”

The findings revealed that one out of every 15 DMs received by the women broke Instagram’s rules on abuse and harassment, and there were 125 separate examples of image-based sexual abuse. To make matters worse, Instagram didn’t act on each example of image-based sexual abuse 48 hours after the incident was reported on the app. Aside from unwanted images, one out of every seven voice notes received by the women were also classified as being abusive.

Related: Facebook delays Instagram Kids after mental health concerns.


Meta says the company doesn’t allow gender-based hate

Instagram’s parent company, Meta, says the company does not agree with the online harassment of women. “We do agree that the harassment of women is unacceptable,” Cindy Southworth, Meta’s head of women’s safety said in a statement. “That’s why we don’t allow gender-based hate or any threat of sexual violence, and last year we announced stronger protections for female public figures.”

If Instagram can boot Kanye West for his behaviour towards Trevor Noah, then we hope the platform can step and do more to protect women from online harassment and hate.

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