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Maisie Williams in Cyberbully

Combat campaign launched as half of women abused online

Yvette Cooper and other female MPs across the parties have joined forces to combat online misogyny

Politicians from Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are joining together in a campaign against online misogyny.

Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Jess Phillips, Tory minister Maria Miller and former Liberal Democrat minister Jo Swinson have launched a joint public consultation to open the dialogue surrounding online abuse.

Recent research has shown the escalation of abuse aimed at women online, using an algorithm that tracked the aggressive use of the words “slut” and “whore” on Twitter. It saw 6,5000 victims of 10,000 misogynistic tweets across April. Last month, another study showed that nearly half of women participating in their research had been the subjects of harassment on social media.

The Reclaim the Internet consultation launched online today (May 26). It’s calling for individuals, employers, unions, police, tech companies and organisations to contribute. It covers five major areas: the role of police and prosecutors, organisations and employers, the responsibility of social media platforms, the role of individuals in society against trolls and supporting victims, and empowering the next generation online.

The accompanying event at the House of Commons today is a “call to arms”, according to Cooper, with unions, women’s groups and representatives from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter in attendance. Speaking of past movements aimed at eradicating stress harassment, Cooper said: “40 years ago women took to the streets to challenge attitudes and demand action against harassment on the streets. Today the internet is our streets and public spaces.

“Yet for some people online harassment, bullying, misogyny, racism or homophobia can end up poisoning the internet and stopping them from speaking out. We have responsibilities as online citizens to make sure the internet is a safe space. Challenging online abuse can’t be done by any organisation alone … this needs everyone.”

Speaking in a Huffington Post blog, Jess Phillips said: “Every time a woman who has faced this internet mob goes to say anything, she pauses and thinks, have I got energy or the time to deal with this today, and she puts her phone down. She is silenced, and she might have had the wittiest, most insightful thing to say. It could have been ground-breaking. She could have been about to launch the campaign that will end the unlawful detention of pregnant women. She could have been about to start the first communication that would change the state of mental health services for all. She could have been frickin' amazing but instead she stopped.”