Vice President Kamala Harris and administration officials on Thursday launched a task force dedicated to fighting online harassment and abuse, which they warned can be a precursor to real-life violence.
“The internet is an essential part of life in the 21st century,” Harris said, but for many — particularly women, people of color, and people who are not heterosexual — “the internet is a place of fear.”
The task force will address several issues, including prevention of online abuse and services for people who are targeted. It is scheduled to issue recommendations for the federal government and private companies in 180 days.
“All of us have a responsibility to stand together to support those who have gone through this, and also recognize they shouldn’t have to be alone fighting on this issue,” Harris said.
Harris was introduced by Sloane Stephens, a Black professional tennis player who has faced a torrent of racist abuse.
“I’m a daughter, a sister, a wife. And I am more than an athlete, more than a label,” Stephens said. “Yet all of that is disregarded when people online seek to harass me and harm me. No matter whether I win or lose, someone online is mad, and they will make it known.”