The Future Online

How different would the world be if we all took action against gender-based violence online?

Young people from Vietnam, Indonesia and Australia have a vision for a better online world. One where social media platforms, governments and every one of us plays a role in creating more inclusive, welcoming and safe spaces online.

Everyone can take action against online harassment and abuse. There’s a whole range of things you can do depending on the situation and how safe you feel to speak out. By pledging to be an active online bystander you’re saying that you stand with young people, and that you will always choose to do something.

Your support will also help us get action from social media companies and governments. By showing that their customers and constituents support bystander action, we can increase the pressure for them to do their bit.

Will you pledge to be an active online bystander?

What are we asking social media companies to do?

 

The pandemic has shown us that social media companies can respond to issues on their platform. If you’ve seen any posts about COVID-19 or vaccines on Facebook or Instagram, you will have seen a little pop-up message with a link to authoritative, local health information. So how can social media companies do their bit to mobilise active bystanders?

We’re asking social media companies to pledge to:

  • Create safer online spaces for young people with diverse experiences (including LGBTIQA+ young people, young people of colour and First Nations young people)
  • Take clear and proactive steps to stamp out gender-based violence and harassment on their platforms
  • Make bystander information and education visible and accessible on their platforms, including links to local resources and support systems.

What are we asking of our governments?

 

Our governments have an important role in raising awareness of this issue, addressing the root causes of gender based violence and harassment online, and developing trauma-informed approaches and resources to tackle the problem.

Education and resources to mobilise active online bystanders are most effective when they are co-designed with the people who are experiencing harassment and abuse online.

We’re calling on Ministries of Education to develop and deliver (with young people) comprehensive digital literacy education that addresses online gender-based violence and harassment as well as providing mental health support to young people confronted with online harassment and abuse.

This issue is important to me because we are inseparable from social media and digital platforms. While we are able to be benefited in a lot of ways in online spaces, not a small number of girls are scared and intimidated online. We have the ability to support and empower each other, as well as making sure that we walk towards equality, humanity, and better online spaces.
  • Naila, Indonesia
If you use the internet, you are responsible for creating a safe and inclusive space for people to communicate and share. Everyone has a role to play in ending online abuse, and it's important to stand up for yourself and others.
  • Olivia, Australia
We need lots of effort to solve this - we need to understand behaviour and motivation, how the psychology of the crowd affects bystander reactions and the echo chamber effect in the private online groups.
  • Nhi L, Vietnam
This issue is important to me because of the disinformation on online platforms causes gender based violence online, cyber bullying, hate speech and affect mental health. In Indonesia, gender-based violence is increasing due to COVID-19. We need safe spaces online for everyone, without any discrimination, to ensure young people's well being.
  • Maya, Indonesia
Future Online

The Research

Young people around the world, particularly girls and gender-diverse folks, are physically threatened, racially abused, sexually harassed and body shamed online and it gets worse when they raise their voices and share their opinions. Online violence and harassment is serious, it causes real harm and it’s silencing young people in a space where they should be free to be online.

How different would the world be if we all took action against online gender-based violence and harassment when we see it?

Young people came together from Vietnam, Indonesia and Australia to research how active bystander intervention can fight the growing levels of gender based violence and harassment that young people experience online.

These youth leaders worked together to design the guiding project questions, conduct focus group discussions with peers and they are now campaigning for change!

Their research focused on this question: What is needed to mobilise and support people to be active online bystanders when they witness online gender-based violence directed towards young people in all our diversity?

They found that a range of factors contribute to online violence and harassment, including cultural norms and gender stereotypes, social media platforms not doing enough to address the issue, social media influencers who can sometimes perpetuate the problem and more broadly, the global pandemic.

Their research also showed that people are powerful agents of change and can be mobilised to be active bystanders but they need the education, tools and support to do so. Education systems and social media companies have a big and important role to play in equipping people to be active bystanders.

Their findings, recommendations and ideas for action demonstrate that change is possible and it lies with all of us as individuals as well as with social media platforms and our government.

  Read the report 

Future Online

Thank you!

We want to thank The Body Shop Australia for their ongoing commitment to empowering young women, and helping to amplify their voices, by supporting the 2021 YAS program and by funding the production of this research study through the sale of Speak Up Lip Vinyls.

As a certified B Corporation, The Body Shop has deep activist roots and strong values around empowering young women, which perfectly aligns with our own mission and purpose as the charity for girls’ equality.

Together in 2020 & 2021, Plan International Australia and The Body Shop are supporting the next generation of leaders and activists, and are working to provide a platform for the Youth Activists to campaign for the issues they care about. By putting young people at the centre of our work, we’re amplifying their voices to create the change we need to see in the world.