How to do restorative justice in online communities?

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Why are presenters/attendees here?

Offline restorative justice, how does it translate to online??

Rapist abusers in tech freedom, nonprofit, hacker scenes

Broken stair - avoid broken stair instead of fixing it, new people get burned

Creepy guy with social capital takes advantage of people

How to stop broken stair phenomenon in its tracks -> tie in for

Intersection of tech + human rights issues, genocide


Research with journalists, assisting with digital privacy practices Ironically, easier to report on other communities than within the journalism/media community


Restorative justice is too late, how/when to intervene with direct confrontation earlier Some restorative justice processes seem broken, pessimistic about outcomes Ally-ship - may be the key to how we solve this problem


Legal liability of online platforms for the actions of theirs users Current legislation Fear of restorative justice process being co-opted by abusers to create more hoops for victims to jump through


Family problems - caucasian family members saying “stand for the flag or go fuck yourself,” “slavery was a long time ago, get over it” People defend the family perpetrator: “Oh, he’s young, he just needs to figure himself” What does Thanksgiving look like for me with my extended family? How can I implement this in my own family


How can we “call in” a lot sooner before the situation has gone too far? How to do that without further injuring the survivor?

My community is full of broken stairs, it has a lot of hunger for learning ways to deal with abuse, there is a lot of interest in restorative justice vs. criminalization. Current process for dealing with abuse is very limited, more discussions are needed


I have a habit of turning people into monsters: “You don’t exist for me anymore” Integrate processes of reconciliation, restorative justice - need involvement and elbow grease from many parties Difficult but important


I feel incredibly culpable and complicit in the bad things that happen in my communities Demonizing others prevents one from reflecting on themselves and their own involvement

Popcorn-style discussion

Restorative justice overview + real world example

Process by which survivor of abuse + perpetrator of abuse heal together and learn, with the involvement of the community. May not stay in the community. The potential to make amends

Child soldiers reintegrating into the communities they committed violence against

Nelson Mandela - Truth and reconciliation commissions - in a similar vein to restorative justice


Range of abuse: Anything from child soldiers to people who don’t understand boundaries

Lack of understanding, or willful misunderstanding, of power dynamics/differential

Kinds of behavior that cause a rift in a community - common thread is people taking advantage of a power imbalance -> Necessary to the justice process is acknowledgement of the power imbalance

Everyone in the community must acknowledge the power imbalance

But, acknowledging it is not the same as doing about it

Pre-agree on what is and isn’t acceptable - these are not organizations, these are communities

Within a community or individuals - norms/expectations change over time

Allyship moment - one made a deal with a friend to only debate each other’s families on Facebook

With the decrease of privacy - you live more publicly, and more people can get at you

Maybe exclusion is the way to go? Or, deliberately choosing to be more private and/or exclude people from your network

Online platforms by design may make it impossible to achieve restorative justice. What incentives/disincentives does the platform create

I find it harder to speak up for myself than to speak up for other people - so, allyship can be advantageous


Being able to call people/problems out, on the spot Inability to have a different social dynamic that empowers us to do this I invite you to be that person that calls other out How do you call someone out without creating an even more destructive situation? I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know how to do this


Ways to call out people Slack channel called Watch Your Language Practice, talk about methods/wording with other people “We don’t talk like that” It’s the same phrases you use with children - and that’s totally appropriate


Someone made me uncomfortable, but I didn’t feel safe in the community or physically safe to say/do anything about it I made someone uncomfortable, but I can’t tell if they would accept/want the apology? “Let’s make this about me” “Hey, I said this thing. I’m accountable for it. We can talk about it.”


Blog post about the phrase: “That’s not how we do things here” Phrase is a two-edged sword Norm/boundary setting language It can short-circuit a lot of things Power grab


Media reporting about harassment - even the good guys criticize the media for “not understanding the community”

What if the broken stair IS a pillar of the community? “Calling people out for abuse? That’s not how we do things here”

I would argue that we all have the power to set norms. Even if you’re a peripheral person, or there is some power imbalance is involved.

People who think they have the most power are most likely to commit abuse unchallenged. Others think they don’t have power to speak up, or think that someone with more power will step up to challenge it - “bystander effect”


Drawing a distinction - people who made a mistake, or misunderstand the community, vs. really violent/dangerous motherfuckers E.g. people who generally make healthy choices and try to make healthier choices, vs. people with serious mental health issues “Mental health nutritious” situations Social isolation - mental/physical health impacts


Qualitative differences between situations


To what extent are the perpetrators engaging in good faith? Extend your own good faith to someone with a mental health challenge? Withdraw your good faith from someone who is a repeat abuser, has a pattern.


One of the reasons we don’t address these things is unrecognized power dynamic - but also explicit social pressure on women not to speak about abuse We take for granted that women won’t speak out about these things, and often we don’t

What if you want to protect the community, but you don’t want to out the victim or attempt to speak for them?

Someone who misunderstands the community norms, vs. those with serious mental health issues, vs. violent & unrepentant perpetrator

Thanksgiving allyship approach - could it scale??? “I’ll deal with your abusers if you deal with mine”

Who are my allies? The challenges of identifying who your allies are Family example: my mom won’t stand by me, the abuser’s mom won’t stand by me

Family is the hardest one. We don’t pick those fuckers…

Our role as good men in this community is be a more structured group, with resources, who can approach the abuser

Abuse in communities


PhillysPissed.net - Resource about consent

Heart Mobbed - project to support people being mobbed on Twitter, Facebook

Another Thanksgiving situation - traveling to see right-wing family, my spouse and I don’t have anyone else there to be on our side

It’s important to speak up for the marginalized/underprivileged, but it’s also important to know and respect your own limits about what you can, or feel comfortable doing

Boundaries are real, we’re allowed to have them

I have trouble with that with my family. I set boundaries, then relax them, then run into problems

Family situations - If you speak in this abusive way, we will leave. Sets boundaries, sends a message not just to your adult family members, but also to your children

Fighting the culture of: Don’t rock the boat


Framework: Impact vs. Intent “Well that’s not what I meant, I didn’t mean it that way” Instead of arguing about the opinion, you show them the impact “Do you know that when you say that, you’re making my children feel uncomfortable/unsafe here” vs. “Your politics are shit”


Thanksgiving support group - contact the session organizers if you want to join!