BCS is hosting a panel discussion about social media, anonymity and online abuse.


  • Abigail Simmons
  • Emma Short
  • Andy Phippen


The internet has a problem: there’s a real risk that, as you go about your daily life online, you’ll be attacked and abused. And if you’re from a marginalised community, that risk is magnified. Hate crime, hate speech, abuse, trolling, racism, sexism, transphobia, harassment, cyberbullying... The list is seemingly endless and the instances of online abuse are unending.

How do we fix the problem? Boycotting social media platforms, as we saw during the World Cup, put the problem under a bright and public spotlight. But it didn’t stop racial attacks happening online.

Many people still see social media as a consequence-free playground where they can behave with no reference to feelings, conventions and social norms.
How can we fix the problem? Is anonymity the cause? Do social media platforms need better identification systems, so accountability becomes easier to establish? Does technology hold the answer; can AI fix the problem? Or is this a more human challenge?

What can we – as responsible and thinking web citizens – do right now to help address online harm?

About the speakers

Abigail Simmons is a security engineer and long term advocate for online privacy and safety. She is founder of the Trans Tech Tent, a group designed to improve digital accessibility for trans people by providing them with the tools and training to engage with communities online. She has authored an award-winning social media campaign around online safety, and helps advise communities on both technical and structural countermeasures to online abuse.

Emma Short is an Associate Professor at De Montfort University, leading the Psychology and Technology Research cluster. She is a Chartered Health Psychologist and HCPC registered as a practitioner in Health Psychology. She has conducted research in the area of cyber harassment and technology facilitated abuse since 2005, working with partners in the third sector, Higher Education, Police and Government bodies. Emma was a co-founder of a research group called the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research in 2011 and has been working to represent the impact of technological evolutions within stalking and fixated abuse since that time. She has published widely and is a regular media contributor on the subject.

Andy Phippen is a Professor of Digital Rights at the Bournemouth University and a Fellow of the BCS. He has specialised in the use of ICTs in social contexts and the intersection with legislation for 20 years, carrying out a large amount of grass roots research on issues such as attitudes toward privacy and data protection, internet safety and contemporary issues such as sexting, peer abuse and the impact of digital technology on well-being. He has presented written and oral evidence to parliamentary inquiries related to the use and regulation of ICTs in society, is widely published in the area and is a frequent media commentator on these issues.

This event is b​rought to you by: BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT

Webinar: Online abuse – it’s not just about tech solutions
Date and time
Monday 23 August, 12:00pm - 1:00pm
This event is sold out