Charity chiefs call for more support against trolling

Social CEOs and the leaders body Acevo interviewed 27 female charity chief executives, nearly half of whom said they had been trolled online, many of them with sexist or misogynistic abuse

Charity chief executives have called for greater support and guidance from umbrella bodies, social media companies and funders to help them deal with online trolling.

The awards organisation Social CEOs and the charity leaders body Acevo conducted in-depth interviews with 27 female charity chief executives about the bullying and harassment they experienced online.

Almost half of the women interviewed said they had been trolled, and four said they were unsure if what they had experienced included trolling.

Of those that said they had been trolled, half said the trolling had included sexist or misogynistic abuse.

The behaviour they were subjected to ranged from constant criticism of the charity and its leadership to racist abuse, people saying they hoped the chief executive would be raped and potential stalking.

One chief executive said she was left feeling suicidal by the abuse; others said it seriously affected them, their mental health and the running of their charity.

When asked what needed to done in response to trolling, they said they wanted umbrella bodies to provide guidance on how to deal with and report such behaviour, and opportunities for peer support to help them share their experiences.

They also called for umbrella bodies to join them in lobbying social media companies to have better policies for dealing with harassment.

One leader quoted in the study said: "[Social media companies] could easily implement algorithms to detect trolls. They could also act on reports in a timely fashion."

Others said funders could offer more support to charity chief executives, with one saying they wanted to see "more awareness among funders to take care of the mental wellbeing of female chief executives, knowing that they can be disproportionate targets of these incidents".

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