The Biden administration is set to announce a task force that will specifically look into and fight against the growing instances of online harassment and abuse. As NBC News notes, Vice President Kamala Harris will be taking the reins in leading the task force, which “aims to address the growing problem of online harassment and abuse which disproportionately targets women, girls, and LGBTQI+ people.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will also be members, and it will be co-chaired by the Gender Policy Council and the National Security Council. Harris will speak today at a panel that includes victim advocates and scholars.
Online harassment has been a prevalent issue that’s plagued social media apps like Twitter and Facebook for years. Pew Research points out that 1 out of 4 Black Americans has experienced abuse on the internet in some form. Forms of harassment have been worse against women due to deep fake technology. 49% of LGBTQ+ students have said they’ve experienced some form of online bullying. The recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Texas have spotlighted the increasing danger of extremism and how it spreads. With all these factors considered, something desperately needs to be done.
The task force will set a 180-day goal to recommend how the federal government, private sector, and civil society can better combat online harassment and abuse. NBC News notes the collective will specifically look into “boosting interagency coordination on prevention efforts; data collection and research.” While there’s no specific platform in mind, adolescents; and access to support for victims and training for federal, state, and local officials
For those worrying about the 1st amendment ramifications, the online task force is not looking to police every word. Administration officials want to specifically target “activities that are illegal conduct, including cyber stalking or the distribution of non-consensual intimate images or targeted harassment.”