August 1, 2023

Tech Companies Urged To Protect Black Women After Study Highlights Extent Of Misogynoir Online

Black Women Online

New research has shed light on the extent of misogynoir across social media platforms. The study comes from the Digital Misogynoir Report by Glitch, a charity tackling the online abuse of Black women and marginalized people.

What is Misogynoir?

Misogynoir, a term coined by the queer Black feminist Moya Bailey in 2010, describes the anti-Black racist misogyny that Black women experience. 

Glitch uses the term to detail the “continued, unchecked, and often violent dehumanization of Black women on social media, as well as through other forms such as algorithmic discrimination.” 

The charity highlights that misogynoir in digital spaces has real-life consequences, for example, igniting violence offline.

Misogynoir is prevalent across all platforms.

After analyzing almost one million social media posts across five platforms, including Twitter and Instagram, Glitch found that misogynoir was prevalent across all platforms. 

Nearly 20% of the posts were “highly toxic,” equalling over 1,000 daily posts.

It additionally found over 9,000 more highly toxic posts about Black women than White women and that digital misogynoir underpins hateful narratives like antisemitism and white supremacy.

Dehumanizing language and stereotypes such as the “angry Black woman” were found in the posts as the charity concluded the research to have an “alarming prevalence of digital misogynoir.” 

The analysis was conducted alongside Textgain, an AI company that uses automated tools to detect hate speech.

“These findings demonstrate the failure of both alternative platforms and established social media giants to moderate racist and sexist hate speech effectively,” Glitch told Cosmopolitan UK.

Despite this, Glitch’s research also found that there is also a high number of positive content from Black online communities.

A Call for tech companies to take action

Black women are 84% more likely to be abused on social media than white women, according to a 2018 Amnesty International study.

Glitch continues to pressure the UK government to implement a public health approach to addressing online gender-based violence, particularly the inclusion of a Women and Girls Code of Practice in the Online Safety Bill.

CEO of Glitch Seyi Akiwowo told Cosmopolitan UK, “Tech companies must take responsibility for how their “build first, think later” approach actively harms Black women – online and offline.

Read: This CEO Is Fighting Against The Bullying Black Women Experience Online

In particular, Glitch is calling for tech companies to have specific policies on preventing and reducing the harm caused by misogynoir, including improving their content moderation tools.

“Digital platforms have known they have a problem with online abuse, misogyny, racism, and radicalization into conspiracy theories for years, not least because Black women have been raising the alarm on it since the 1990s,” the report reads. “It is a choice to delay, ignore, or deny the problem.”

The report calls for government and non-government groups, research and civil society organizations, online communities, and digital citizens to hold tech companies accountable and play their role in dismantling misogynoir.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.