We call on the need to build an ethics and politics of consent into the culture, design, policies and terms of service of internet platforms. Women’s agency lies in their ability to make informed decisions on what aspects of their public or private lives to share online.
Our proposition is simple: if social media platforms and dating apps (and any tech really) wanted to, they could embed users' consent into the very UX design and algorithm of their code. But most developers or network operators aren't prioritizing consent. Quite to the contrary, the dominant priority on the internet today is to extract as much data as possible with little attention to who is posting data about whom. We see this when folks post photos or videos, sometimes sexual, of others purposefully or not, without their consent. We also observe how there hasn't been enough outrage around lack of transparency of privacy breaches conducted by websites and internet corporations. It makes a lot of sense to have simple symbols that warn users of the terms (rather than long and complicated legalese documents we are asked to "agree" on before using a site or app). The lack of pick-up points to strong lobbying by websites to keep terms of services deceptive and difficult to understand. We've made consent central to our discussions of sexual harassment and relationships. Let's make it central to a feminist internet.