One entrepreneur and fashion influencer says she feels “vulnerable and unprotected” after facing sexual harassment on a daily basis.
Sandie Roberts uses social media to run Roll with Style, a fashion guide company for wheelchair users.
She has 39,000 followers on Instagram and says her problem is with people who have a fetish for women with disabilities.
Mrs. Roberts wants Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, to do more to protect people.
A 52-year-old woman from Cirencester told BBC Radio Gloucestershire that she had been dealing with sexual harassment online for about 18 months but found it difficult to deal with when she first encountered it. Told.
“I was terrified that they would find me in real life. It made me feel completely objective,” she said.
“It took me a lot of time to get over it and keep posting content.
“I felt very unsafe. Every time I went to work, I put myself in a vulnerable position. I felt physically sick.”
Mrs. Roberts says she occasionally posts photos of herself in skimpy clothing, but she doesn’t think it’s okay for it to be objectified or that it’s her fault.
“I posted a photo of my lingerie so people might say you’re asking for it. I totally disagree with that,” she said.
Mrs. Roberts, who has been in a wheelchair since 2019, uses social media to promote her products, so she can’t keep her account private.
But if you remove the harassing followers, the algorithm will deem her content unpopular and fewer people will see it.
“If you’re in the office, they can get fired for sexual harassment. If you’re in the store, you can get a security guard to deal with them,” Mrs. Roberts said. rice field.
“With social media, you have to keep the store open all the time, and everyone can hang around.
Meta offers the following advice on features that can help people who run into similar problems:
limit – This is especially useful for public figures. He can hide direct her messages and comments from two groups: people who don’t follow you and people who recently followed you.
DM [direct messages] Control – This allows people to turn off DMs entirely or choose who they allow DMs to, such as choosing to only receive DMs from people they follow
Comment control – You can turn off comments for specific people or turn them off completely for each post
secret word – Filter DMs and comments with inappropriate terms so they don’t need to be displayed
blocking – This prevents people from interacting with you.They can’t find your account, see or interact with your content
At worst, Mrs. Roberts said, her account was flooded with about 1,000 messages an hour.
“I tried to delete them – we both did our best to do it and deleted over 64,000 from my account,” she said.
“But this has completely killed my account. I’m damned for whatever I’m doing. It’s exhausting.”
The solution Mrs. Roberts suggested would be to make it an option to screen people who want to follow her.This is currently only an option for private accounts.
But online safety expert Hera Hussain said platforms like the one run by Meta should do more to keep Roberts and others like her safe. says.
“The solution is not for Sandy to leave the platform,” Hussain said.
“The solution is not to spend hours sifting through hateful messages.”
Hussain said one of the problems is that platforms keep secret how their algorithms run, which makes it difficult for people to predict how their actions will affect their accounts. I added that there are.
“This is a very traumatic experience for anyone running a business,” she said.
Mrs Roberts said:
“I work with well-known brands and love what I do.
“Where should we go when our business is being attacked by these despicable people?
“I reported many accounts for porn, only to be told that Instagram was too busy to even look into it.”
In a statement, Meta said:
“This content will be removed as soon as we become aware of it.
“We strongly encourage everyone to use safety features developed in direct consultation with safety professionals and the community.”
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