The app, which seeks to educate users who are abusive on social media, is just one initiative being developed by the nonprofit Feminist Internet collectiveby Tola Onanuga / July 1, 2019 / Leave a comment
From social media trolls spewing vile rape threats to comment-board discussions that turn toxic at the mere mention of gender equality, the abuse of women online has become depressingly commonplace. Figures show that more than one in five women in the UK have experienced abuse online, usually related to physical or sexual violence.
If the internet was built around feminist and equality-led principles, would such abusive behaviour be eradicated? Feminist Internet, a boundary-pushing nonprofit, aims to answer this thorny question.
The London-based collective was founded in 2017 and includes designers, writers, artists and directors among its ranks. One of its key missions is to democratise the internet and construct a more equal space for women and other marginalised groups through creative, critical practice.
A prime example is the Hollabot, an app that detects abusive online behaviour towards women and then forces the perpetrator to carry out community service. Although it’s still at prototype stage—further prototyping and presumably some kind of collaboration with social media sites would be required—the Hollabot perfectly illustrates the scale of the collective’s ambition: the perpetrator would then be to use their social media account unless they complete a course educating them about the consequences of their actions.
One of Feminist Internet’s co-founders, Eden Clark, explains how the idea for the Hollabot was conceived: “We didn’t simply want people to be ‘cancelled’ if they were abusive online. We thought it would be a good idea for them to go through an educative process, that would inform those that have been abusive on why that behaviour isn’t OK.”
Clark adds that the Hollabot project has been well-received, although it will need much more work before the concept can become a reality.
Feminist Internet’s manifesto states that education is the key to eradicating ignorance and prejudice. “A blessing (and a curse) of the internet is that it is a mass of information from across the world, that can be accessed at the click of a button,” Clark elaborates.
Clark points to Instagram as an example of a tech company grappling with the problem of abusive behaviour. “I have noticed recently that Instagram now monitors curse words, and asks ‘are you sure?’ when you’re about to post, and gives you the option for more information, which could be a good…