What is online abuse?

Online abuse encompasses many malicious tactics and behaviours that cause distress and harm. The purpose of harassment differs with every incidence but usually includes wanting to embarrass, humiliate, scare, threaten, silence, extort or, in some instances, encourage mob attacks or malevolent engagements. 

PEN America defines online abuse as “the pervasive or severe targeting of an individual or group online through harmful behaviour. “

While online abuse can happen to anyone, it often happens to women and those with intersectional identities. 

It is coined technology-facilitated gender-based violence (TFGBV) when online violence or harassment is directed at women and gender-diverse individuals. 

LEAF defines TFGBV as the “use of technology to engage in manipulation, control, and sexual violence against women and gender-diverse people, and the proliferation of all forms of misogyny and gender-based violence online.” 

It is important to remember that TFGBV is inherently connected to larger systems of oppression and discrimination which affect women and gender-diverse people disproportionately. Particularly, “those who hold intersecting marginalized identities, such as 2SLGBTQQIA, Black, Indigenous, and racialized women; women with disabilities; and women who are socioeconomically disadvantaged”.

Governments are becoming increasingly aware of TFGBV. Many are working with civil society and industry to combat it. Advocates around the world are advancing all manner of recommendations to ensure an internet that is free from gender-based violence.

Informed Opinions joins other organizations in calling for urgent government action and accountability on the part of social media platforms to ensure an internet that is free from gender-based violence.

To learn more about online abuse and technology-facilitated gender-based violence, visit our Toxic Hush Action Kit