Changing Faces broadly welcomes the Law Commission’s proposals for greater protections for people who experience online abuse. We will be reviewing the consultation document and working with our community to respond.
Social media is a crucial space for connecting and offering support amongst people with visible differences. Many are already vulnerable to social isolation, anxiety and exclusion, and have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet many of our community are still subject to trolling and online abuse – over 40% of people with a visible difference have had negative experiences online, and 1 in 10 people with a disfigurement say they are repeatedly harassed on social media.
Experiencing this hostility and abuse online has a long-lasting impact; one in 10 say negative behaviours have stopped them using social media.
It is important that introducing requirements to prove harm does not further burden victims or deter them from reporting online abuse.
Reporting must be simple and accessible for people who experience appearance-related abuse and those who handle reporting online must be informed and responsive.
This will be vital for rebuilding the trust of our community online and empowering more people with visible differences to recognise and report abuse.
Changing Faces is committed to working with tech companies, the Police, and the Government to help improve the online experience for people with a visible difference. And, when it is confirmed, we look forward to working closely with the UK’s first internet watchdog.
For further information, our Visible Hate campaign explains how to recognise and report hate crime, abuse and harassment both online and in person. We also have information about staying safe online and offer confidential practical, emotional and psychological support to people with a visible difference.