Cyber violence is a pervasive and growing problem—and one that is experienced disproportionately by women. This tech-enabled abuse includes the non-consensual sharing or manipulation of intimate materials, as well as nude photos or videos manipulated by artificial intelligence (A.I.).
Bumble Inc. research shows that across Germany, France, and Spain more than one in two (53%) of women aged 18-34 have been a victim of image-based abuse. This can cause severe distress, leaving a lasting impact on how women interact with the internet. Of women victimised, 82% reported feeling less safe, with some looking to withdraw entirely from online spaces.*
This problem is only getting worse as we spend more of our lives online, and as A.I. tools and “nudification” technology become increasingly accessible.
Strengthening protections for women online could not be more urgent.
Bumble Inc. is a women-led company with gender equality at the heart of its mission. We wholeheartedly welcome the European Parliament’s strong support for the Directive to combat violence against women and domestic violence. The text is a major milestone for Europe, as it provides the first EU-wide law criminalising gender-based violence, both offline and online, including cyber-stalking, cyber harassment, cyber threats and intimate material-based abuse online.
Since the launch of the proposal in March 2022, Bumble Inc. has been working with policymakers and organisations in Brussels to discuss how to ensure that all existing and emerging forms of gender-based cyber violence are captured in the text. In particular, we asked for the non-consensual sharing of intimate images, such as nudes, A.I.-generated nudes, and cyberflashing—the appalling practice of sending unsolicited images and videos of genitals online—to become an EU-wide offence. We’re thrilled to see Bumble’s recommendations to reinforce protections against cyber violence included in the European Parliament text.
In April 2023, Bumble Inc. organised a roundtable at the European Parliament in Brussels with representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament, civil society groups such as HateAid, Centre for Democracy and Technology Europe, and academics from Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy at the University of Cambridge to raise awareness of the increasing prevalence of A.I. tools created to perpetuate gender-based cyber violence. We shared insights into Bumble’s advocacy work in the U.K. and several U.S. states on cyberflashing, our ongoing collaboration with Partnership on A.I. (PAI), and Bumble’s approach to responsible innovation through the development of safety features such as Private Detector, an automated tool which automatically blurs potential nude images shared within a chat on Bumble.
We’re encouraged by this agreement, which sends a strong signal from elected officials in the European Parliament that protecting women is—and should always be—a priority. As the text will now be negotiated with EU Member States, we’ll continue to work with policymakers to help end systemic forms of gender-based violence in the EU.
*The research was carried out online by Research Without Barriers – RWB. All surveys were conducted between 31st March 2023 and 5th April 2023. The sample comprised 3,018 adults across France (1,001), Germany (1,010) & Spain (1,007). RWB is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and complies with the DPA (1998).