The Internet Marketers Association has released a statement on its Facebook page which calls on employers to take steps to “protect the wellbeing and safety of employees from online harassment and other forms of discrimination”.
It says it’s “deeply concerned” about the “recent increase in the use of ‘online abuse’ to harass, intimidate and discriminate against employees”.
“We believe that an industry-wide response will be the most effective way to combat online harassment,” it says.
“Employers should take the following actions to ensure employees are protected from the harassment, intimidation and discrimination of online abusers.”
The statement adds that the association has also launched a new online bullying prevention tool which will help employers “keep their employees safe online”.
The association has previously taken to social media to warn against the dangers of “online harassment”, and says it has been “forced to take a stand” on the issue by the “vicious” campaigns against people who speak out against bullying.
“We have to ask ourselves: what is the right thing to do?
And to be honest, we don’t want to say what is right and wrong.
We want to make sure our employees are safe,” it said.
The association says it “will not be deterred by any attempt to silence the voices of employees, as we are always willing to defend our members and encourage them to speak out.”
Facebook’s own guidelines on the use and content of its own social media platform, the Platform, include a section on how to “defend yourself and others against abuse”.
However, the statement says that “if you experience inappropriate content or actions, you can report it and help others who are experiencing the same thing”.
The statement also says that, in cases of abuse, Facebook “respects the rights of those who have engaged in speech that falls within its guidelines”.
The group says that it has received “over 400 complaints” from members about “online abuse”, which it says is “a reflection of our work as a social media industry leader”.
“It’s very important to us that we are able to speak up when we see harassment and discrimination and to stand up for our employees,” it continues.
The statement concludes: “It is important to remember that the Internet Marketing and Advertising Association is a global organisation and we are all in this together.”
Facebook, which employs over 2.5 million people globally, is not the only tech company to take action on harassment.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is also taking a stand, with an internal memo published on Monday announcing that it would not allow athletes to use its app or website to share their stories of abuse.
However, other tech companies have been less outspoken, including Google, Facebook and Twitter.
The NBA’s decision is part of a broader trend of technology companies stepping up their efforts to combat the rise of online harassment.
In June, Facebook said it would allow “friends” to share more about their friends’ online activity and the platform would also allow users to add “tags” to “liked” posts.
Twitter has said it will also allow people to share stories of “likes” and comments about them.
The US National Basketball Players Association also released a memo in February saying that it was “deepening our efforts” to improve its policies, which it said “have not been met with sufficient change”.