WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris and administration officers on Thursday launched a job drive devoted to combating on-line harassment and abuse, which they warned generally is a precursor to real-life violence.
“The internet is an essential part of life in the 21st century,” Harris mentioned, however for a lot of — notably girls, individuals of shade, and people who find themselves not heterosexual — “the web is a spot of concern.”
The task force will address several issues, including prevention of online abuse and services for people who are targeted. It is scheduled to issue recommendations for the federal government and private companies in 180 days.
“All of us have a responsibility to stand together to support those who have gone through this, and also recognize they shouldn’t have to be alone fighting on this issue,” Harris mentioned.
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Although the issue is just not new, it has taken on new urgency following mass shootings in Texas and New York that had been predated by misogynist and racist commentary on social media and message boards.
Harris was launched by Sloane Stephens, a Black skilled tennis participant who has confronted a torrent of racist abuse.
“I’m a daughter, a sister, a wife. And I am more than an athlete, more than a label,” Stephens said. “Yet all of that is disregarded when people online seek to harass me and harm me. No matter whether I win or lose, someone online is mad, and they will make it known.”
After matches, Stephens mentioned, she is anxious to select up her cellphone as a result of “I know what will be waiting for me when I unlock it.”
The National Security Council is working with the White House Gender Policy Council on the initiative, and Attorney General Merrick Garland and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy participated in Thursday’s announcement.
Garland mentioned the Justice Department had devoted extra assets to points like on-line stalking.
“We are committed to relentlessly investigating these crimes, bringing to justice those who perpetrate them, and providing support for the survivors,” he said.
Murthy said people often turn to the internet when they are lonely or looking to make connections, “yet all too often what they find instead is harassment and abuse.”
“It can no longer be acceptable for a technology company to put out a product and walk away from the responsibility for how it impacts users and communities,” he mentioned. “It can not be OK for social media platforms to be fertile grounds for hatred.”
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