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'epidemic of misogynist abuse'

Instagram failed to act against 90 percent of 'misogynist abuse' sent to high-profile women, study says

A nonprofit is accusing Instagram of negligence after finding an "epidemic of misogynist abuse" in the Instagram DMs of high-profile women. 

The Center for Countering Digital Hate in a new study partnered with five high-profile women, including actress Amber Heard, who provided access to over 8,000 direct messages they received on Instagram, The Washington Post reports. The report found that one in every 15 of those direct messages broke Instagram's rules against abuse and harassment. 

The researchers said they reported 253 accounts for abuse sent to these women, but a month later, 227 of the accounts were still active, "representing Instagram's failure to act on 89.5 percent of reports sent to its moderators." Instagram "allowed 9 in 10 abusers who sent violent threats to our participants to remain online, even after they were reported to Instagram using the platform's own tools," the group also said.

Instagram refuted the report's conclusions, and in a statement to the Post, Facebook head of women's safety Cindy Southworth said "we don't allow gender-based hate or any threat of sexual violence, and last year we announced stronger protections for female public figures." Instagram also said it does take action against users for abuse but utilizes a strike system, meaning their accounts wouldn't always be immediately disabled. 

But the Center for Countering Digital Hate said the findings were "concerning" because its research suggests half of users who send abusive messages will continue doing so after social media platforms fail to take action against them. 

"Instagram has chosen to side with abusers by negligently creating a culture in which abusers expect no consequences — denying women dignity and their ability to use digital spaces without harassment," Imran Ahmed, Center for Countering Digital Hate's chief executive, alleged. "There is an epidemic of misogynist abuse taking place in women's DMs. Meta and Instagram must put the rights of women before profit."