Belfast city council calls on social media giants to tackle misogyny
Belfast city council will write to Facebook and Twitter calling on them to address their “failure” to tackle threats of violence and abuse directed at women.
The move was agreed at Tuesday night’s monthly council meeting at City Hall and follows a string of recent high-profile bullying incidents on Twitter directed towards women.
In a motion proposed by Alliance councillor Sian O’Neill and seconded by councillor Kate Nicholl, the council agreed to write to Twitter and Facebook’s European headquarters in Dublin to voice their concern over the issue.
Councillor O’Neill said the social media giants need to “back up their policies with action” as they have a responsibility to “ensure human rights are respected”.
“You only have to search names of some female politicians- including many here in Northern Ireland - to see this vile and unacceptable hatred,” she added.
The Alliance representative detailed some of the abuse she has received on social media in the past and said “enough is enough”.
Councillors from all parties spoke in support of the motion, which originally "called on" the social media platforms to tackle the problem, before it was later amended to include writing directly to Facebook and Twitter about the issue.
PUP councillor Billy Hutchinson recalled how he felt “physically sick” when he previously had to put out a press release condemning the abuse his colleague, fellow councillor Julie-Ann Corr Johnston, had received on social media.
“Whether it’s a member of our party or a member of another party receiving this abuse, we will come out a condemn it,” he added.
Independent councillor Jolene Bunting said this type of behaviour is “just not acceptable” and called on police to do more to tackle the problem.
Sinn Fein’s Mary Ellen Campbell urged those on the receiving end of misogynistic abuse: “Don’t let people into your head that you wouldn’t let into your home. Don’t be silenced.”
DUP council group leader Lee Reynolds pointed out the three of the leaders of the five main political parties here are women and said his party fully support the motion.
“The scale and repetition of the abuse that thrives on social media would put anyone off joining political life,” he added.
“I see these messages coming to my party leader daily - it’s non-stop. The tools in place are simply inadequate and not worth the e-paper they’re not really written on.”
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