What is Online Abuse?

Online Abuse + Harassment

Adopting Women’s Media Center definition: online abuse includes a diversity of tactics and malicious behaviours ranging from sharing embarrassing or cruel content about a person to impersonation, doxing, stalking and electronic surveillance to the nonconsensual use of photography and violent threats. The purpose of harassment differs with every incidence, but usually includes wanting to embarrass, humiliate, scare, threaten, silence, extort or, in some instances, encourages mob attacks or malevolent engagements.

Tactics are wide ranging. They are sometimes legal, but harmful and consequential. They may legal, but violate a particular platform’s guidelines and terms of service. Some, but not all, are illegal, including, but not limited to Child Pornography, Copyright Infringements, Data Theft, Defamation, Extortion, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Harm, Libel, Privacy Infringements, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Surveillance, Stalking and True Threats.

Online Violence Against Women + Girls

The online targeting of women, sometimes called cybersexism or cybermisogyny, is specifically gendered abuse targeted at women and girls on the internet and it also incorporates racism, religious prejudice, homophobia and transphobia.

Online Hate Speech

Online hate speech has no uniform legal definition but can be found in different statutes, part 3 of the Public Order Act 1986; Section 4a of the  Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994; part 3a  Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 ; and Part 3a Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.

The baseline definition is expressions whether that is written material, action and images of hatred toward someone on account of that person’s colour, race, disability, nationality (including citizenship), ethnic or national origin, religion, or sexual orientation, disability or other traits is forbidden. Any communication which is threatening or abusive, and is intended to harass, alarm, or distress, denigrates, insults, threatens, or targets someone or groups of people is forbidden. The penalties for hate speech include fines, imprisonment, or both. Every social media platform has it’s own unique definition .