Online abuse and the experience of disabled people Contents


Social media is a means for people to organise, campaign and share experiences. It helps them to access services, manage their careers, shop, date and navigate a society that is too often designed without disabled people in mind. The disabled people we heard from were some of social media’s most enthusiastic users. However, their experiences and Katie Price’s petition highlight the extreme level of abuse that disabled people receive online—not just on social media, but in online games, web forums, newspaper comments sections and elsewhere. It is shameful that disabled people have had to leave social media whilst their abusers continue unchecked. Self-regulation of social media has failed disabled people.

We agree with Katie Price’s petition that the law on online abuse is not fit for purpose. Laws which cannot act against fake child pornography designed to mock a disabled child and his family cannot be considered adequate. Online abuse can destroy people’s careers, their social lives and do lasting damage to their health. People should not have to avoid their town centre, local park or place of work to avoid sustained abuse, mockery and threats. Online spaces are just as important in the modern world and should be treated as such.

Our recommendations focus on the experiences of disabled people as told to us during our inquiry and consultation events. We recognise there is wider work to do on the law on online abuse and the governance of social media. This is being taken up by other Select Committees. Our conclusions and recommendations should be read as a contribution to the conversation around online abuse, disability and the responsibility to ensure that offline and online spaces are safe and inclusive. For our part, our recommendations include:

Published: 22 January 2019