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Uganda: Study suggests harassment keeps women politicians offline, highlights need for tech companies to lead in addressing online violence

"How harassment keeps women politicians offline in Uganda", 1 September 2021.

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As a data and digital rights researcher at Pollicy, a feminist civic tech organization that researches gendered online violence in African countries... we thought this election [held online in 2021] would be a great opportunity to monitor social media content and analyze how online violence against women in politics manifested... [We found] Ugandan women politicians use social media far less than their male counterparts, which could be related to the abuse that women experience across platforms.

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[W]e found that women in Ugandan politics experience online violence in the forms of trolling, body shaming, sexualized and gendered insults, and gendered disinformation on both Twitter and Facebook.

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As more women are encouraged to use social media, it is imperative that we come up with solutions to keep them safer online...

One way to do this would be to improve reporting mechanisms and give women in politics more control over the kind of comments that can be directed at them. In the long run, the onus should not be on women... Technology companies need to take the lead. A great start would be to include local slurs directed at African women politicians in their hate speech lexicons, so as to make it easier for them to detect harassment in real time.