Summary of online targeting and shaming published
The summary is based on written material and supplements the report published earlier in March on measures to combat online targeting and shaming. However, the assessment of the extent and impacts of online targeting and shaming will require even more research-based information in the future.
In addition to literary searches, the information included in the summary was compiled by contacting different authorities, organisations and occupational groups. They were requested to provide written information on the extent of online targeting and shaming.
“Many organisations see online targeting and shaming as a problem, but so far its extent has not been examined, at least not in a way where the information has been written down. In general, very few studies of online targeting and shaming have been done to date in Finland. Another complication in finding and collecting written material is that the term ‘online targeting and shaming’ is rarely used in studies, surveys and reports, because we have no clear, commonly accepted definition for the term,” says Tarja Mankkinen, Head of Development from the Ministry of the Interior.
The newly published summary points out that the number of employees who have fallen victim to online targeting and shaming alone is not a sufficient indicator when it comes to the extent and impacts of online targeting and shaming.
“The number of employees who have fallen victim to online targeting and shaming is only one indicator for assessing the effects of online targeting and shaming. In many workplaces, online targeting and shaming also has a significant deterrent effect. If even one employee is subject to serious online targeting and shaming that intrudes on his or her private life, this may have a significant impact on the wellbeing of the entire work community and the functioning of the organisation,” says Mankkinen.
Various sources refer to harassment and threats experienced by employees. According to Mankkinen, it is very difficult, however, to assess which part of the harassment or threats would be considered online targeting and shaming.
“For these reasons, the summary published today is only indicative and is by no means a precise description of the extent of online targeting and shaming in Finland. In order to reliably assess the extent of online targeting and shaming and its impacts on people and society, a broad cross-administrative study on the subject is needed."
A common definition would be important for reliable and consistent analysis
To be able to examine the extent of online targeting and shaming more consistently and reliably in the future, the working group proposes that a common definition of online targeting and shaming should be agreed. At the moment, a number of slightly different definitions are used of online targeting and shaming.
The Ministry of the Interior's working group that was set up to improve the measures to combat online targeting and shaming arrived at the following definition in its report:
Online targeting and shaming means an activity in which an individual, by means of his or her own actions or by mobilising others, initiates or encourages organised harassment against one target, which may be direct or indirect. The means are, for example speaking ill of someone, dissemination of private information, or threats. Online targeting and shaming may also be directed at a person through his or her loved ones. The goal of online targeting and shaming is to influence people or society's structures and institutions and, in particular, trust in them. (Ministry of the Interior 2021)
Tarja Mankkinen, Head of Development, tel. +358 295 488 370, [email protected]