20 Feb 2024Webinar

Webinar: Gendered disinformation and the fight for democracy

ISD Research Manager Cécile Simmons is the featured speaker for EU Disinfo Lab’s webinar ‘Gendered disinformation and the fight for democracy: Navigating the threats towards the 2024 elections’ in February.

Cécile, who has co-authored various reports on gendered abuse most recently looking at offline events that targeted women online, including US female politicians online, and disinformation attacks on reproductive rights in France covered the current threat landscape, platform policies and the effects of Generative AI and deep fakes in recent cases. She also goes in-depth covering two case studies on 1) the algorithmic amplification of candidate abuse in the 2022 US midterms, and 2) gendered disinformation and attacks on reproductive rights in France.

“There is a clear link between gendered disinformation and gender-based violence, although they are not the same,” starts Cécile. “Gendered disinformation alone is not necessarily violent, but it can act as a precursor to gender-based violence because of the nature of the disinformation and the narratives being spread,” she said, adding that both serve to mainstream misogyny, normalise hate against women online and have long-term insidious impacts on women (i.e. dissuading females from participating in the public sphere).

“Hypercharged by the COVID pandemic, we have seen the online threat landscape become increasingly hybridised: the boundaries between disinformation, conspiracy theories, targeted hate, harassment and violent extremism have become ever blurred,” with a range of actors coming together and building “loose coalitions” around crises points. In the context of gender, Cécile said it overlaps with misogynistic hate and gender-based violence.

Cécile goes on to explain that gendered disinformation has predominantly been addressed alongside other harms, lacking consistent enforcement in platform policies, a trend extensively documented in ISD research. Regarding elections, Cécile recommends platforms enhance moderation similar to other trigger events that tend to propagate disinformation, including gendered disinformation, as seen in the aftermath of the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

A replay of the full webinar is available on EU Disinfo Lab.