Charity CEOs are calling for more support to tackle online abuse with almost half of female charity CEOs surveyed for a report having experienced trolling, including personal targeted attacks, and misogynistic and sexist comments.
The joint report by Social CEOs and ACEVO is the result of a survey, which ran from 20 August-17 September and received 27 in-depth responses from female CEOs of both large and small charities. The survey defined trolling as antagonising others online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive or abusive content.
In the report, Social CEOs and ACEVO state:
“Through conversations with charity leaders we became aware that a number of civil society leaders had experienced and been affected by trolling. It became apparent that women often experience particularly challenging trolling, which can include misogynistic abuse.
“To explore this further we decided to undertake research into the experiences of female civil society CEOS, to shine a light on what had happened to them, to find out what that tells us about the support they need, how they’d like things to change on social media and how the sector could support them.”
The survey found that 48% had been trolled, with a further 15% unsure. 42% of those trolled found it disturbing, with 11% saying it had had a major impact on them, affecting their mental health and making them concerned for their safety or that of their family. 11% also said it had a major impact on their charity.
Their experiences affected them in a number of different ways, including limiting what they say and do online, leaving them isolated from friends and family, and causing stress and anxiety. One CEO felt suicidal.
Trolling also impacted the charities they work for, taking time, energy and resources as well as impacting mental health.
In terms of the help they would like to see available, CEOs highlighted more peer support, guidelines on how to deal with trolling, better support from social media companies and support from funders, and with their mental health.
9 out of 10 also said they would like changes to how the social media platforms operate, while 42% would like legal advice, over a third (37%) want help from the police, and 32% want support from the media.
Charity Digital Trust has offered to help organise a roundtable to look at the support CEOs need in more depth, as well as ways to solve the problem, and where charities could campaign on the issue. Social CEOs and ACEVO will then test the resulting ideas with the sector and look into how they can be developed.
To attend the roundtable, contact Jonathan.Chevallier@charitydigital.org.uk .
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