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Worrying rise in digital hate speech against transgender community: report

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A rise in digital hate speech against the transgender community was noted in 2022, said the Cyber Harassment Helpline report released by the Digital Rights Foundation.

The report elaborated that removing an activist and policy specialist from the panel of speakers at the TEDx conference scheduled to take place at the International School Lahore in August 2022 triggered an online hate campaign against the activist and the transgender community as a whole.

It furthered that following the development, the helpline witnessed a significant rise in online attacks and hate speech against the transgender community from August 2022 to November 2022.

“The Helpline team was in touch with representatives of various social media platforms to help explain the context of the campaign and request more immediate action, and while they displayed a willingness to listen, the steps taken to resolve the matter were not satisfactory and resulted in harmful content remaining on the platforms,” the report added.

Moreover, it was also reported that there was an upsurge in the number of cases related to financial fraud in 2022.

“There is no fixed pattern as to the people victimized by these scam attempts, but there has been an increase in the number of cases reported to the Helpline since February,” the report stated.

It furthered that the Cyber Harassment Helpline received 2,695 new cases, adding that the helpline cases were primarily through three mediums: the helpline phone number, DRF’s social media channels, and the Helpdesk email.

The report stated that the central helpline remained the primary mode of communication, with 2,307 callers.

It added stated that the majority of callers were from Punjab, adding that the helpline asks callers about the city and region they are contacting from to advise them better about their options.

“We received complaints from people residing in Kashmir as well, but it is important to mention that since the region does not come under the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) jurisdiction, there is limited legal recourse in these cases,” the report furthered.

The report further said that “blackmail, hacking, threats and unsolicited contact feature as some of the top complaints brought to the Helpline by both men and women”.

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