Online Abuse Issue Page Hero Image

Online Abuse

The Issue

Online abuse—from violent threats and hateful slurs to sexual harassment and doxing—poses a direct and pressing threat to free expression. Writers, journalists, and artists require an online presence to do their work. But they are targeted for their profession and their identity, especially if they identify as women, people of color, LGBTQ+, and as members of religious or ethnic minorities. We know that online abuse challenges livelihoods, undermines equity, and stifles free speech. We also know that it can lead to offline violence and put lives at risk. 

PEN America is committed to fighting online abuse and making online spaces safer, more equitable, and more free by:

1. equipping those facing abuse with resources and trainings to defend themselves;
2. collaborating with media organizations, universities, and other employers to protect and support staff facing harassment;
3. conducting research and advocacy to hold social media companies accountable for online harms; and
4. working in coalition with partner organizations to fight back.

Online abuse stifles free expression.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Join PEN America and the Coalition Against Online Violence to tell the platforms it’s time to step up and #FightOnlineAbuseNow.

#OnlineAbuse is a pervasive and growing problem. Join @PENAmerica's campaign to #FightOnlineAbuseNOW and help us make online spaces safer, more equitable, and more free. Learn more: Tweet This
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Commentary

Facebook, Twitter, and the World’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park

Facebook, Twitter, and the World’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park

Writer and PEN America Trustee Jennifer Finney Boylan draws a connection between Facebook, Twitter, and the world’s most dangerous amusement park.
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No One Should Have To Face Online Abuse Alone

No One Should Have To Face Online Abuse Alone

Platforms must enable users to nominate a handful of trusted contacts (friends, followers, etc.) to join these teams, which users can turn to in times of critical need.
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An Online SOS: How Social Media Companies Can Provide Real-Time Support for Targets of Online Abuse

An Online SOS: How Social Media Companies Can Provide Real-Time Support for Targets of Online Abuse

To navigate these terrifying situations, users need to be able to quickly access personalized support in real time. This is where an SOS button and emergency hotline come in.
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Shielding Users From Online Abuse: A Free Speech-Conscious Approach to Fighting Harassment

Shielding Users From Online Abuse: A Free Speech-Conscious Approach to Fighting Harassment

There's no reason why social media platforms can't create a shield that treats online abuse like toxic spam, filtering it out and quarantining it for review.
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Three Ways Social Media Companies Can Disarm Abusive Users

Three Ways Social Media Companies Can Disarm Abusive Users

To protect targets of online abuse, social media companies must actively discourage abuse and hold abusive users accountable. 
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Five Steps Social Media Companies Can Take Now to Fight Online Abuse

Five Steps Social Media Companies Can Take Now to Fight Online Abuse

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms can take five easy steps to make their platforms safer for users facing online abuse.
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Tip Sheets and Resources

You’re Not Powerless in the Face of Online Harassment

You’re Not Powerless in the Face of Online Harassment

If you or someone you know comes under attack of online harassment, remember that you are not powerless. There are concrete steps you can take to defend yourself.
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What to Do When Your Employee is Harassed Online

What to Do When Your Employee is Harassed Online

When staff are attacked online in a way that intersects with their professional life, organizations have a responsibility to take the abuse seriously, and help address it.
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Why You Should Dox Yourself (Sort Of)

Why You Should Dox Yourself (Sort Of)

If you’re at risk for online abuse, there are some unexpected steps you can take to protect yourself.
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Events

Bystander Intervention: How To Be An Ally When You Witness Online Abuse

ThuOctober 132022
Digital Event Free Event Online
In this free, one-hour, interactive training, we’ll give you the tools you need to intervene safely and effectively in online abuse using Right To Be’s 5Ds of bystander intervention.

Bystander Intervention: How To Be An Ally When You Witness Online Abuse

WedSeptember 282022
Digital Event Free Event Online
In this free, one-hour, interactive training, we’ll give you the tools you need to intervene safely and effectively in online abuse using Right To Be’s 5Ds of bystander intervention.

Bystander Intervention: How To Be An Ally When You Witness Online Abuse

TueAugust 232022
Digital Event Free Event Online
In this free, one-hour, interactive training, we’ll give you the tools you need to intervene safely and effectively in online abuse using Right To Be’s 5Ds of bystander intervention.

Get Updates and Join Us to Fight Back Against Online Abuse

Sign up to join our campaign to #FightOnlineAbuseNOW and to get updates on training, tips, and resources for navigating online harassment.