A new report has examined the impact that trolls have on female charity leaders
Almost half of female charity chief executives have been targeted by trolls.
A new survey by Social CEOs and ACEVO has revealed the extent of online abuse for women in the sector.
The study chose to focus solely on women after it became apparent that female staff often experience particularly challenging trolling, which includes misogynistic abuse.
Chief executives described how dealing with trolling took time, energy and resources from their team, and affected their team’s mental health.
The report found that trolling affects chief executives at both small and large charities. It also found that almost half of those surveyed, 48%, have been trolled. Trolling was defined as behaviour that antagonises others by “deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant or offensive comments, or other disruptive or abusive content”.
And 11% of respondents said trolling had a major impact on their charity. Those quizzed spoke of their experiences limiting what they say and do online, feelings of isolation from friends and family, and a negative impact on their mental health such as stress and anxiety and feeling personally attacked.
The survey ran from August to September of this year, with a relatively small number of responses received (27). Participants were from across the UK.
Those who took part suggested social media companies could offer more support and that better guidelines on trolling are required.
Comments from those who responded
“On Twitter, when I use the hashtag feminism, or when I talk about why it is important to empower women, I get random tweets attacking me and my ideological position. There have been quite a few and I have just chosen to ignore.”
“…Trolling came from a former volunteer. I know that he didn’t only troll me, but also other senior women in the organisation. At least three other women were trolled by him. The trolling lasted for around two weeks. It took up staff and trustees time to deal with it. The volunteer lives in (location removed) so the danger of him actually tracking me down and causing me physical harm was minimal, but we had to handle it very carefully. We were also worried that he may harm our organisation’s online reputation by posting other inflammatory comments.”
“Really upsetting to constantly get notifications from shouty men and so many sexual messages. My twitter profile pic is me with a high neck top and wearing glasses and even with that I got accused of ‘wearing sexy glasses to turn men on and clearly asking for it.’ “