Our work to combat the ‘shadow pandemic’

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Cases of violence against women have surged in 2020. According to the United Nations Population Fund, for every three months the COVID-19 lockdown continues, an additional 15 million women are expected to be directly affected by violence. As this so-called “shadow pandemic” continues, Twitter will continue to support nonprofit partners working to bring awareness to the uniquely intense strain the pandemic has had on women. 

We recognize that access to a free and open internet is essential, as people across the globe turn to social media services like Twitter to discuss women’s rights and other important social issues. In fact, women’s rights have dominated conversations on Twitter this year with 40 million Tweets so far and counting. 

In addition, since the start of COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, there have been 1 million Tweets per month about domestic violence and related issues. Services like Twitter that rely on the open internet are not only a medium for discussing the issues, but, for many, can be a lifeline and a means to seek help.

Amplifying the conversation on Twitter

In partnership with UN Women and the UN Human Rights Office, we are launching custom emojis to spread awareness on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25 and Human Rights Day on December 10. The emojis will appear when people Tweet with the hashtags #GenerationEquality, #OrangeTheWorld, #16Days, #HumanRightsDay, and other localized hashtags. 

We are supporting local nonprofits across the world by providing Ads for Good grants to several partners to ensure that they can use the power of Twitter’s advertising platform to reach more people. Throughout the next #16Days, we will also amplify various regional campaigns and messages about the importance of gender equality and combatting violence against women to increase engagement and awareness. 

“We have seen the whole world respond to the coronavirus pandemic with all hands on deck, and with responsive investment and protocols backed by determination. Violence against women is also a pandemic — one that predates the virus and will outlive it. As we face COVID-19’s devastation, there has never been a more important moment to put our combined resources and commitment behind the biggest issues, and work with partners like Twitter to end violence against women and girls for good.”
— Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women

Providing support and safety resources   

In addition to elevating the public conversation, we have partnered with health authorities and nonprofit organizations in various markets to expand our #ThereIsHelp notification service. When people search terms associated with gender-based violence on Twitter, they will receive a notification with contact information for local hotlines and other resources to encourage them to reach out for help.

Since our initial rollout at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have expanded the prompts to reach 24 markets spanning countries such as Australia, India, Mexico, Spain, Thailand, the UK, the US, and more. This month, we rolled out dedicated gender-based violence #ThereIsHelp prompts in Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, and Italy to broaden our support and efforts to provide helpful resources to people in need.  

The open internet has played a foundational role in the efforts of social media platforms like Twitter to connect people to helpful resources, healthy conversation, and community. We look forward to continued work to ensure that Twitter remains a safe place for people to shine light on critical and timely issues.

Let’s continue to #OrangeTheWorld one Tweet at a time. 


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