A normalization of violence: how cyberbullying began and how to fight it | Life and style | The Guardian

Everyday on the internet, people – disproportionately women, people of color and queer people – are abused. How did we get here and what can we do about it?

Fuente: A normalization of violence: how cyberbullying began and how to fight it | Life and style | The Guardian


I know who you Skyped last summer: how Hollywood plays on our darkest digital fears | Film | The Guardian

I know who you Skyped last summer: how Hollywood plays on our darkest digital fears | Film | The Guardian.

Hit horror Unfriended takes place entirely on social media and computer screens. So if the genre really is a barometer for the anxieties of an age, what does that say about the world we now live in?

Unfriended … scream grabs. Unfriended … scream grabs. Photograph: AP

‘Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep,” cautioned the tagline for A Nightmare on Elm Street back in 1984. Thirty years on, having your dreams interrupted by some old codger with a pair of scissors is the least of your worries. These days, you can’t even open your laptop.

More than any other genre, horror acts as a barometer on exterior fears. The bogeymen of our times are stumbling ciphers for outside concerns. In the 50s,Invasion of the Body Snatchers fretted about McCarthyism. In the 80s, The Thingriffed horrifically on the emerging Aids epidemic (watch that blood-test scene again). And post-9/11, the torture-porn subgenre, spearheaded by Saw andHostel, placed viewers in the position of prisoners, held below ground, off-radar, subjected to dreadful indignities.

Last weekend saw the emergence of a new cycle of horror into the mainstream.Unfriended opened in the US with $16m at the box office (making it the third-biggest film in the charts). On the surface, its plot seems hopelessly generic. A girl is driven to suicide and her vengeful ghost haunts the teens responsible. So far, so similar to every other sleepover shocker. But the twist here is that the entire film unfolds on the main character’s computer screen. Conversations happen on webcam, exposition via Facebook messenger and plot points are revealed on YouTube. It’s “I know who you Skyped last summer”, made to make you go omg wtaf.


If tech companies wanted to end online harassment, they could do it tomorrow | Jessica Valenti | Comment is free | theguardian.com

If tech companies wanted to end online harassment, they could do it tomorrow | Jessica Valenti | Comment is free | theguardian.com.

The courts may decide that sending threats over social media isn’t threatening enough to be a crime. Silicon Valley needs to step up or lose customers

woman computer concerned
When online harassment is routine, being online might become less of a part of women’s routine. Photograph: Alamy

If someone posted a death threat to your Facebook page, you’d likely be afraid. If the person posting was your husband – a man you had a restraining order against, a man who wrote that he was “not going to rest until [your] body [was] a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts” – then you’d be terrified. It’s hard to imagine any other reasonable reaction.

Yet that’s just what Anthony Elonis wants you to believe: That his violent Facebook posts – including one about masturbating on his dead wife’s body – were not meant as threats. So on Monday, in Elonis v United States, the US supreme court will start to hear arguments in a case that will determine whether threats on social media will be considered protected speech.

If the court rules for Elonis, those who are harassed and threatened online every day – women, people of color, rape victims and young bullied teens– will have even less protection than they do now. Which is to say: not damn much.

For as long as people – women, especially – have been on the receiving end of online harassment, they’ve been strategizing mundane and occasionally creative ways to deal with it. Some call law enforcementwhen the threats are specific. Others mock the harassment – or, in the case of videogame reviewer and student Alanah Pearce, send a screenshot to the harasser’s mother.

But the responsibility of dealing with online threats shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of the people who are being harassed. And it shouldn’t need to rise to being a question of constitutional law. If Twitter, Facebook or Google wanted to stop their users from receiving online harassment, they could do it tomorrow.

When money is on the line, internet companies somehow magically find ways to remove content and block repeat offenders. For instance, YouTube already runs a sophisticated Content ID program dedicated to scanning uploaded videos for copyrighted material and taking them down quickly – just try to bootleg music videos or watch unofficial versions of Daily Show clips and see how quickly they get taken down. But a look at the comments under any video and it’s clear there’s no real screening system for even the most abusive language.

If these companies are so willing to protect intellectual property, why not protect the people using your services?