[imagesource: Katie Buckleitner / Getty]
One in 15 Instagram Direct Messages (DMs) sent to high-profile women are abusive, and sadly, Instagram doesn’t act on 90% of those dick pics and the like.
This is according to the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a British non-profit organisation that’s taking aim at Instagram for allowing serial cyberflashers to continue with their abusive antics, reported VICE.
Cyberflashers are defined as someone sending overtly sexual and obscene images online, and have been found to be responsible for nearly a third of the image-based sexual abuse the users received online.
The CCDH analysed the thousands of DMs that high-profile women on Instagram have received, including Amber Heard and Countdown presenter Rachel Riley:
“It really makes me not want to go into my DMs at all because it’s revolting,” said Rachel Riley.
“It’s astounding to know that randomers are sending porn – it empowers them to know that it’s gone to your inbox. They get off on it.”
The CCDH’s report also found that Instagram failed to act on most image-based sexual abuse within a 48-hour period, and suggested that abusers too often take advantage of the gaps in Instagram’s spotty reporting system:
The “hidden words” feature that filters out offensive words into another folder was found to be ineffective, with swear words and “bitch” not being hidden for users.
While one in seven voice notes were found to be abusive, Instagram has included no method for users to report them.
Sharan Dhaliwal, the founder of the magazine Burnt Roti, also had her DMs analysed:
[Her] dataset showed that many strangers attempted to call her numerous times, and that one did so after sending her two photographs of his genitals.
Another tried video calling her after messaging her 42 times in a 3-day period with comments such as “sex”, “I like hairy” and “I wanna lick it”.
“You can dissociate from most abuse,” Dhaliwal told the CCDH, but that “when you hear their voice it becomes more real.”
In some countries, like France, Ireland, and the UK, this kind of online abuse is illegal or a criminal offence.
Cyberflashers can be sentenced to prison and platforms can end up with fines for not responding appropriately when users are faced with image-based abuse.
Instagram, meanwhile, says that they do have measures in place to protect people from this kind of abuse.
Like the fact that messages from people you don’t follow go to a separate inbox, “where you can either block or report the sender”.
One can also turn off message requests altogether.
But even with those measures in place, the threat of sexual violence persists.
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