Countering online harassment

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Lots of questions here, not as many answers.

how to make spaces safe for everyone, without infringing civil liberties?

what to do when free speech isn’t enough?

women tend to protect themselves from harrassment and violent speech by becoming less visible or leaving the platform.

young girls tend not to know that they are experiencing violence.

when is it appropriate to shut down discussion?

online discussions tend to look very flat, and can turn into a feud where each of the participants try to ruin the other. bad actors are often ostracized and escalated, instead of called back in and lead to right their actions.

intermediary liability - when should a web platform be held responsible for what happens on it?

how do you navigate an abuser? if you remove the abuser, are you just setting them into an unsuspecting public?


General tactics:

- Amnesty International is looking into ways to tag abuse in online speech

- when abuse is identified in a visible, infrastructural way, like a tag, people tend to acknowledge it more

restorative justice in a rape case: to become involved in this process, we acknowledge our complicity in the abuse.

dealing with sexual assault in a radical community: “it’s not that i don’t believe in transformative justice, it’s that the process is too nuanced and involved to embark on with strangers”. is it impossible to do with many people?

many restorative justice practices hinge on honesty and intimacy. Is it safe to maintain the necessary levels of honesty online, in a written record?

what is our obligation to community members who are discovered to have these diseases?

does it make a difference when abuse comes from a bot?


one weakness in reparative justice is opacity in the process and about what the outcome should be.

someties it’s appropriate to ostracise an abuser.

communities have the freedom to decide which rights to prioritize, for instance, to limit free speech that harms or endangers someone.


what would happen if we treated abuse as a DDoS?

harrassment and pile-ons are a form of censorship via crowd.

“you don’t argue with a troll to beat the troll. you argue with a troll to show the audience that they’re a troll.”

set a frame around the discussion: “we welcome debate of these things, and nothing else”

systemic oppression and power differentials have a huge impact on whether abusers change their behaviors.

can we flag and gather examples of successful restorative justice, online or in person?