Developing Strategies to Counter Online Abuse

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Citizen Technologist

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Developing Strategies to Counter Online Abuse

By Nick Doty, CTSP | Permalink

We are excited to host a panel of experts this Wednesday, talking about strategies for making the Internet more gender-inclusive and countering online harassment and abuse.

Toward a Gender-Inclusive Internet: Strategies to Counter Harassment, Revenge Porn, Threats, and Online Abuse
Wednesday, April 27; 4:10-5:30 pm
202 South Hall, Berkeley, CA
Open to the public; Livestream available

These are experts and practitioners in law, journalism and technology with an interest in the problem of online harassment. And more importantly, they’re all involved with ongoing concrete approaches to push back against this problem (see, for example, Activate Your Squad and Block Together). While raising awareness about online harassment and understanding the causes and implications remains important, we have reached the point where we can work on direct countermeasures.

The Center for Technology, Society & Policy intends to fund work in this area, which we believe is essential for the future of the Internet and its use for digital citizenship. We encourage students, civil society and industry to identify productive collaborations. These might include:

  • hosting a hackathon for developing moderation or anti-harassment tools
  • drafting model legislation to address revenge porn while maintaining support for free expression
  • standardizing block lists or other tools for collaboratively filtering out abuse
  • meeting in reading groups, support groups or discussion groups (sometimes beer and pizza can go a long way)
  • conducting user research and needs assessments for different groups that encounter online harassment in different ways

And we’re excited to hear other ideas: leave your comments here, join us on Wednesday, or get in touch via email or Twitter.


See also:

4 Comments
  • Sebastian Benthall

    April 26, 2016 at 9:41 pm Reply

    The framing of this problem is very interesting.

    What do harassment, revenge porn, threats, and on-line abuse have in common? That they are gendered?

    I’m concerned that the “gender” frame obscures differences between these forms of I’ll behavior on-line. For example, I would expect the motivations of revenge porn and in particular sexual harassment (there are other kinds of harassment) are quite different. What is on-line abuse in some contexts (Twitter) is homosocial competitive aggression in others (some on-line gaming media). Acknowledging these kinds of nuances are I suspect critically important for developing *effective* strategies.

    I’m also reminded of Elizabeth Anderson’s distinction between androgenic and gynocentric social contexts. I wonder if the entire concept of “gender-inclusive Internet” is a symptom of context collapse in the policy imagination. Obviously there are more male dominated and female dominated spaces on-line. There are also spaces with more and less moderation. Abuse happens perhaps predominantly in those spaces that are mixed in gender and have less moderation. Is the question perhaps not whether the Internet should be gender inclusive (as there are lots of gendered spaces and surely something for everybody) but whether these particularly unmoderated, public, and already inclusive (because participation is mixed) should exist at all? Is there an alternative space that fills a niche not met already that’s waiting to be designed?

    • Nick Doty

      May 1, 2016 at 6:55 am Reply

      Good questions, Seb, thanks. We have previously discussed online harassment (in the associated blog posts, for example) without an explicitly gendered framing, in part because it affects everyone’s use of the Internet, regardless of gender. But gender has always come up as an important dimension in those discussions. I found it useful at this talk to hear from the panelists about how gendered online harassment interacts with offline gendered interactions — that people who experience online sexual harassment or threats also likely experience catcalling and similar offline harassment, or, in a more positive example, that women in some South Asian countries have used the Internet to post videos of women in typically male spaces to counter cultural taboos.

      I for one hope that we can have more public, gender-inclusive spaces online; whether that requires more moderation (or what kind of moderation) remains to be seen. I certainly agree (and some scholars have looked at this) that different types of harassment in different contexts will require different strategies for mitigation.

  • Mike

    April 28, 2016 at 11:00 am Reply

    OMG! I missed this. If you don’t mind would you provide me any videos on this topic. I read some pdf file on UNISCO “COUNTERING ONLINE HATE SPEECH”. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002332/233231e.pdf. Currently, Its a big issue. When you login on FB, Twitter, or other social networking; you face it.

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