European Parliament report on social media harms to women and girls


FuJo researchers Professor Debbie Ging and Dr Kirsty Park are at the European Parliament in Brussels today to present their report on The Impact of Social media on Women and Girls. The report was co-authored with recent PhD graduate Shane Murphy and PhD candidate Cian McGrath.

The report was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality to assess the impacts of social media on women and girls, on gender equality, and on democracy and civic participation more generally.

Writing about their findings on Social Europe, Prof Ging and Dr Park note that “among the most disturbing of our findings are the ways in which women are being targeted and judged on their appearance, subjected to image-based sexual abuse and silenced in public debate.”

Girls and women are also significantly more likely to experience sexual and gender-based abuse on ‘social media’, including by receiving unsolicited images, being asked to send nudes or having their own images shared. This is especially acute among young people and is underpinned by gender-unequal power dynamics in youth image-sharing, the persistence of a sexual double standard and a tendency toward victim-blaming in public discourse and educational interventions.

The authors call for careful monitoring and evaluation of the EU Digital Services Act to ensure it fulfills its promise to mitigate systemic risks online. They also call on social media companies to exercise stricter content moderation and sanctions and they advocate for wider adoption of digital-media literacy in schools.