Tag Archives: online harassment

Consequences of an Online Presence

I find it amazing when someone decides to start being active online in some form or another and then is surprised when others start to respond to what they are sharing. I think there are those that purposefully try and get a rise out of people. A lot of the prank YouTube channels in particular seem to be that their goal is to shock, to make a video that goes viral. Then there are those that seem to be creating, thinking it will be funny, or because they have fun doing it and don’t expect the reaction to some of the things that they create.

Recently there has been some stories about a family with five kids who run a prank channel where the parents run pranks on the kids. Now they have around 765,000 subscribers and recently some of their videos had started gaining some tractions. The reaction to the videos was not all positive because in some of the videos the kids seem like they are in distress. Understandably some people get upset about this and while I disagree with people sending threats I am not surprised it happened. What amazes me is how surprised the parents are at people’s reaction. If you start putting yourself out there in any way online you have to be prepared for the potential backlash and really think about what you are putting out there and if you can stand by it.

Online Audience

The very nature of an online audience is that it can be anyone anywhere. Now usually you will end up finding people who are a similar interest with what you are posting. At the same time if you start getting a larger audience you are more likely to find people who disagree or even potentially disapprove. Going in to the experience of online sharing you almost have to anticipate that there will come a time when someone will disagree with the very existence of what you are sharing. If you spend any time online you see these things all the time, I mean just look at the comments section of a simple news article. It cannot be that hard to believe.

Internet Trolls

The other piece that you have to recognize is that there are some people out there whose sole purpose in life seems to be to get a rise out of someone. They just want to argue for argument’s sake instead of contributing anything meaningful to a conversation. When you are dealing with someone who is a troll there just is no point in even engaging, which can be hard. They will write pages in response without saying anything, but trying to make it sound like you are wrong no matter what the circumstances. It can be hard not to respond when you are faced with such opposition, but ultimately it is a futile effort that will just leave you frustrated.

Consider Content

Now one thing I have to point out is almost anything can be considered controversial, but there are definitely some things that people post online and all I can think is, “you really though that was a good idea?” There are things that are going to potentially draw more ire than others and you either prepare for those consequences or just don’t do it. At the same time there are people for whom their perspective just doesn’t prepare them for understanding that there might be a different way to do things.

The Daddy of Five YouTube is a good example because they do not seem to understand how or why people are getting so upset it’s just a prank and even now they have revealed that it was all fake (they have also made all their videos private). Now there are still questions of how real or fake the videos are, but it is the fact that you started making these videos and didn’t expect that it could get bad eventually. A lot of prank channels (that don’t include kids) already get some heat just due to the content and the actions that they take. It is the people who react like they don’t think those reactions might be a possibility that just baffle me.

Going in to any sort of online media you have to understand that you are opening yourself up for others to react to you good or bad.


On Gates, Hugos, and Puppies – Throwback Thursday

This week for a Throwback Thursday, looking back at some of our posts from the original blog, there was one that came to mind this week thinking about Ghostbuster… but then I remembered that really, there’s two posts there, so why not both? From Gamergate to the Hugos, and now to Ghostbusters, I think there is a strong thread of connection between the world happening, and reactionary backlash. Here’s each of those posts, below! Or follow those links back to the originals where there was a lot of conversation.

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On the Gates that Gamers Build

Sorry to steal over an hour of your time, but this was really good.

We’ve talked about Anita Sarkeesian before, such as in this related post, and her show Feminist Frequency. Having watched all of those videos, YouTube had the good sense to recommend to us the first video… which we then found out was a six-part series.

We watched it all once we started.

I really like the way that the question was approached – why on Earth did all of this happen? Why all the hate, why the targets that ended up being targeted? We’ve been following it all for a while, but not everyone has, and it can be dangerous to bring Anita up when you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.

And I should say – we’ve specifically avoided talking about the hashtagged gate that gamers built because we know that people were trolling that and giving grief. And we were wanting to avoid the grief when we had nothing to add to the conversation. With these videos, that has changed.

Watch them. Share them with those who might need some thought to go into it. There’s some deep psychology stuff in here. Some tough questions. Not a lot of answers. But it’s good stuff.

Not Everyone’s a Dick All the Time

And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, one girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.

-Douglas Adams, Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy

A couple weeks ago I read an article from The Mary Sue discussing the fact that cultures of harassment can be changed. The article was a quick reflection on a larger article from Wired magazine about Curbing Online Abuse, and discussing how some of the same ideas can apply to harassment at San Diego Comic Con. I have been wanting to write an article about the findings from the Wired article for a while, but just had not gotten around to it. With the occurrences of Saturday and the #yesallwomen movement, it seemed like a great time to discuss my reactions to this article and what it means for online harassment.

The study mentioned in the Wired article displayed some interesting statistics. Now they did not mention any specifics about the behavior that they considered negative, so it is not necessarily just abuse targeted at women. In some ways this makes sense because we should not just focus on ending abusive behavior towards women, but all abusive behavior. The most important take away is the fact that abusive behavior is not just isolated to a small number of players who are always abusive. The truth is that a large portion of abusive behavior is done by players who normally do not act that way, but something sets them off, which sets someone else off, and so on and so forth. This means it is not just about taking care of those people that are always abusive, but changing the culture of the community as a whole.  Continue reading

Legal Problems and Advances in Technology

Something that I often think about in the technology field is that laws never seem to be able to keep pace with the changes in technology. Often in the news we read about problems arising because either actions taken online or how someone used a new piece of technology. We have had cell phones for how long and only recently has there been laws about talking on the phone or texting while driving. We are continually adding various screens to help us navigate or find resources nearby, but laws start not wanting us looking at screens. How do we deal with more screens in the car or flashier billboards that might be considered distracting?

Then there is the use of online presences and communications. We know how to deal with harassment in person, but what about online. There have been cases where people have been bullied online and we tend to not treat it as harshly as in person harassment. Then there is jurisdictional issues that will always be problematic. Do we charge based on where someone is acting from or the space where the servers are housed? Or if the company is based in another country and operates mostly to people in the United States and it is illegal one place, but not another how do you handle it. Continue reading