Yesterday, the Gender Policy Council and National Security Council launched the White House Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse. The Task Force was established through a Presidential Memorandum signed on Thursday. Following remarks by Vice President Harris, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, senior Administration officials heard from a panel of survivors and experts, who shared personal stories and recommendations on online harassment and abuse.
Survivors and experts highlighted the offline impact of online abuse, ranging from psychological distress and additional negative health impacts, to self-censorship, disruptions to education and economic loss, as well as experiences of other forms of physical and sexual violence. Participants noted that online harassment and abuse disproportionately impacts women, girls – especially women and girls of color – and LGBTQI+ individuals. Participants also provided concrete recommendations to prevent and respond to online harms.
Senior Administration officials reaffirmed the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to preventing and addressing gender-based violence wherever it occurs, including online. They outlined key actions the Administration is already taking to address online harassment and abuse, and explained that the Task Force will provide a blueprint for action within 180 days with recommendations on additional steps the federal government can take. This blueprint will include a focus on expanding research to better understand the impact and scope of the problem, improving prevention efforts, increasing support for survivors, and strengthening accountability for offenders and technology platforms. Recommendations will also address the nexus between online misogyny, radicalization, and violence.
Following yesterday’s launch, the Task Force will hold roundtables to hear from survivors, advocates, legal experts, law enforcement and other stakeholders in the coming weeks and months. The Task Force is co-chaired by the White House’s Gender Policy Council and National Security Council and members include Cabinet officials, senior White House leadership, and the heads of department and agencies with policy and programmatic responsibilities key to preventing and addressing online harassment and abuse.
External Participants included:
- Sloane Stephens, U.S. Open Tennis Champion, survivor and mental health advocate
- Francesca Rossi, survivor and victim advocate/Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- Matthew Herrick, survivor and advocate
- Mary Anne Franks, Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, Professor, University of Miami Law School
- Carrie Goldberg, victim rights attorney
- Melissa Diaz, Chief, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office Family Protection Division