Women ‘influencers’ suffer more from systematic harassment on social networks | Valencian Community
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There is a social narrative in which influencers or online content creators are free, independent, autonomous people, but a report from the University of Valencia (UV) demystifies a profession that has grown a lot in the last decade. “The work of influencers it is very much a slave to the algorithm and it is harder if they are also women because they suffer more from systematic harassment on social networks”, explains Adrián Todolí, author —together with Luminita Patras— of the study promoted by the Chair of Collaborative Economy and Digital Transformation of the UV, and presented yesterday in Valencia.
The figure of influencerwhich has revolutionized the digital market, advertising and marketingreceives remuneration in different ways in exchange for sharing moments of his daily life or offering advice in different fields, such as fitness, beauty or food, and in doing so they support brands of consumer products and services, the report describes. Many companies look for them to promote their products because of the legion of followers they have. “In addition, they no longer only have an impact on advertising and consumption, but also influence the lifestyle of their followers or affect the results of local or national elections,” says the study, prepared from 31 interviews with 16 women. and 15 men, between 18 and 52 years old.
The researchers have focused on work on which there is not much information and what exists is more quantitative than qualitative. “The two biggest problems we have found is, in the case of women influencers, who all talk about being systematically harassed by social networks, with comments that are out of place or off-color. It is serious and also an added difficulty in dedicating oneself to this work”, adds the UV professor.
On the other hand, there is the algorithm of the platforms that distribute the content of these digital creators. “For example, if one day they don’t publish, the formula can penalize them. They need to post every day and, if possible, at the same time. They are very enslaved, with 12 or more hours a day of dedication, weekends included. The lack of transparency of the algorithm creates a lot of stress and anxiety for them”, adds Todolí. The lack of breaks and the difficulty of digital disconnection is a risk to the health of these professionals.
The report refers to the wide variety of forms of economic compensation or “monetization” of the work of influencers (collective patronage, marketing, merchandise…), which, according to the opinion expressed by the respondents themselves, makes contribution and taxation complex.
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The academic study concludes with a series of recommendations such as influencers are grouped in associations that improve the status of their profession, “given the existing inequality between the platforms and the individual professional,” says Todolí. From the platforms, the authors demand more transparency about the criteria that make this content more or less visible, or what the rates are and how the remuneration of each content that is uploaded to the network is calculated.
And, above all, the researchers propose that there be greater control of the contents to limit the cyberbullying or hate speech. “Platforms should get their act together and expel people who make comments that are out of place,” says the professor. The Public Administration demands a state plan against harassment “with the prosecution of the most serious cases.” And more clarity and advice from the public sector to these content creators on tax issues, given the difficulties they allege. Furthermore, the vast majority of small influencers they do not declare their income, “apparently due to ignorance, not due to malicious intent,” the study includes.
Todolí recalls that the European Union is working on a regulation on algorithmic transparency. “Hopefully they will be soon”, concludes the professor.
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