Local MP Taiwo Owatemi is backing a campaign by young disabled people from Coventry to make Facebook treat disability hate on its platform with the seriousness it deserves.
Inspired by Coventry Youth Activists’ (CYA) campaign #FacebookHasNoStandards, launched on 1 March to mark Zero Discrimination Day, the Coventry North West MP helped organise a meeting between CYA and Facebook UK earlier this month. Below is her press release.
An official petition to government by CYA is calling for a specific duty on social media platforms to prevent and remove abusive posts targeted at disabled people. Please sign and share it widely!
Click here to learn more about what instigated CYA’s campaign and specific examples of the hate speech people face.
Taiwo Owatemi MP and Coventry Youth Activists meet with Facebook to tackle online abuse of disabled people:
Taiwo Owatemi MP has joined local Coventry Youth Activists in their campaign to put an end to online abuse experienced by disabled people.
The Labour MP was captivated by Coventry Youth Activist’s campaign earlier in the year and reached out to the group to offer her support.
Taiwo Owatemi MP went on to praise their campaign in a speech in Parliament expressing: “I know the strength of feeling across this issue in my own area, which is why I am supporting Coventry Youth Activists’ campaign for a change in Facebook’s policy so that it recognises hate speech and discrimination specifically targeting disabled people.
At the moment, that form of discrimination is reported under the “other” category, which makes it seem acceptable and less important than other types of abuse. Tech giants can and must do more to protect the rights of their users to feel safe, both online and in their everyday lives, and their users’ free expression should not mean that they are free from consequences of their actions.”
Currently, 1 in 10 reports of all disability hate crimes reported took place online in 2019-2020, increasing by a staggering 46 per cent in the last year.
The Coventry North West MP facilitated a meeting with the local activists and Facebook UK to put their concerns to the social media giant.
The young activists, supported by Coventry-based charity Grapevine, offered Facebook officials recommendations to improve disabled user experience and safety on the platform.
Commenting on the progress of the campaign Taiwo Owatemi said: “No-one deserves abuse or discrimination – online or offline.
“Coventry Youth Activists are demonstrative of the passionate young people we have in our city. They saw something that wasn’t right and spoke up to change it.
“I’m proud to have helped ensure our local young people were listened to by one of the largest companies in the world.”
Local youth activist, Joey said: “Online abuse of disabled people must stop. It’s not right or fair that disabled people experience derogatory comments and hateful language online.
“It’s great to have Taiwo Owatemi MP on our side and promoting our cause. I hope social media companies listen to our campaign, so everyone can enjoy their platforms.”
Statistics on the rise in online abuse of disabled people can be accessed here.