The Privatising Censorship, Digitising Violence: Shrinking Space of Women’s Rights to Create in the Digital Age report outlines how women artists interact with the online space and draws attention to the worrying nature and frequency of threats they are directed. It further explores how artistic expression makes women artists acutely susceptible to misogynistic online abuse and threats. The combined impact of this online reality, in particular, the anonymity that online platforms can provide, along with the consistency, frequency and nature of threats, can compel women artists to review their online presence in the longer term.
This report is based on structured qualitative interviews with 16 artists who have experienced censorship and/or online harassment and a limited secondary literature review. Freemuse also spoke to curators to analyse their interactions with social media administrators, in particular how they viewed the impact of these platforms on the artists, and to identify any overwhelming issues pertinent to their presence online.
According to Freemuse Executive Direction Srirak Plipat, “The report shows that social media community guidelines must be much better in line with international human rights standards, the appeal process needs urgent improvement, and civil society must be able to take part meaningfully in key decision making related to online censorship and gender-based violence.”
The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression welcomed the Freemuse report and pointed to the importance of working together to remove barriers to free expression on social media. This includes challenging the mainstream interpretation of public morals and calling on companies responsibilities for human rights.
Speaking at the report’s launch event at RightsCon in Tunis, Jac sm Kee, APC Women’s Rights Programme manager, remarked:
“We have to start with people whose sexual expression is already regulated to begin with. We need an intersectional approach, whether this be around sexuality, ethnicity, women from the margins.”