Women in the media are witnessing online and offline attacks worldwide, compromising their security.
These strikes affect female journalists the most because they include trolling, sexist language, hate speech, stigma, violence, and sexism.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) report states that male journalists are less targeted online than their female counterparts.
Almost two-thirds of the female journalists that, include 900 validated participants from over 120 countries surveyed for UNESCO’s 2021 report, The Chilling, came forward with a point that they had experienced one or more degrees of violence online.
According to the report's main findings, 73% of women surveyed say they have experienced online violence. Those threats radiate – 13% said they received threats of violence against someone close to them.
Furthermore, 20% of the women surveyed said they had been assaulted or abused offline in connection with online violence. Besides, 413% increased their physical security against online violence, and 4% said they took time off from work for fear of going offline.
The psychological impact of online violence was the most frequently cited outcome (26%). Twelve percent of respondents reported seeking medical or psychological help after being affected by online violence
However, only 11% reported it to the police, and only a few received support from their media organizations.
Interestingly, research also shows that women are likely to be targeted because of their ethnic background and physical characteristics and not their work.
These threats have severely impacted the work of investigative journalists, as has freedom of expression.
As a result, the media environment leaves less space for freedom of expression and diversity. Moreover, this little liberty creates inequalities for society and the editorial board.
The impact on freedom of expression and the effect on mental health is immense and too often underestimated.
Therefore, some things, including basic security, platform policies, and relevant laws, can be adapted to help female journalists avoid such attacks.
Right attitudes and practices can provide a high level of protection in everyday life, but vulnerabilities always exist, mainly due to human error and judgment. It is essential to understand how attacks can be made, how such attempts work, and what to do
Starting with the safety basics, everyone must use different passwords for each account; Importantly, it should not be associated with you or anyone you know.
Generate and store passwords securely with a secure password manager and ensure your device is protected with a password or PIN code.
People's names, pet names, or dictionary words should also be avoided. It is no longer sufficient to replace letters and numbers with letters of the same type.
Moreover, scan the device that you are regularly using with antivirus software. Encrypt your hard drive and back up your data to the cloud and external hard drives.
One thing that is the most important is that they should enable the ‘Find My Phone or Find My Device’ settings to track and recover lost/stolen devices.
Other than that, one must wipe their phone screen regularly to remove any dirt that might indicate your PIN. Avast describes social engineering as “using psychological techniques to manipulate behavior” by “inducing victims to act against their best interests.”
From an information security perspective, this means exposing personal data online, such as access credentials and financial information. Social engineering involves tricking people into taking action or divulging credentials or confidential information.
It is observed that many newsroom reactions to gender-based online violence appear to have been non-existent, ad hoc, or inadequate. At times, they have even damaged the women journalists targeted
Countries must ensure that laws and rights protecting women journalists apply offline
Applies equally online as required by UN resolutions call status to see details of the threats and harassment of female journalists online.
Politicians should refrain from increasing attacks (online and offline) against women journalists. Female journalists should not be held accountable for the online violence they experience.
Women journalists should be encouraged to report online violence to their employers and internet communication platforms. Internet telecommunications companies should ensure that their online abuse and harassment reporting systems can respond to complaints from women journalists in a timely and effective manner, per international human rights frameworks specifically designed to protect journalists.
Internet telecommunications companies must detail in their transparency reports the types and patterns of reports they receive and the actions taken accordingly.
Nevertheless, collective action involving civil society organizations, journalist networks, and researchers is needed to increase knowledge about attacks, develop collective measures to keep women journalists safe, and provide appropriate support.
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