The Australian government made many changes to the regulation of the online world during 2021. They were the subject earlier this month when I was a guest on the new podcast Talking Tech Policy from the new Tech Policy Design Centre at the Australian National University.Continue reading “The 9pm Extra: Talking Tech Policy episode 2, “Replumbing Power””
Monday 6 to Sunday 12 January 2020 was even quieter than I predicted last week. The bushfires continued, affecting my plans for Friday and Saturday but fortunately not having a real effect. And a ZDNet story brought me to the attention of The Australian.Continue reading “Weekly Wrap 502: Smoke, mists, and a truth that hurts”
On Friday I was interviewed about Twitter’s latest quarterly results by ABC Radio’s lunchtime national current affairs program, The World Today — and in particular the potential future impact of bullying and trolling. And here’s the result.
“Twitter CEO admits cyber bullying poses threat to revenue growth,” was the story’s headline, and this is how presenter Peter Lloyd introduced it:
“The social media giant Twitter is being been forced to confront a serious threat to its profitability – cyber bullying. In internal emails leaked to a news website, the Twitter’s CEO says he ashamed of his company’s handling of bullies. Dick Costolo says harassed users are abandoning the service and as part of the quarterly financial results announcement overnight, Twitter reported disappointing user growth in the final three months of last year.”
The reporter was Pat McGrath.
The audio is ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The audio is being served directly from the ABC website, where you can also read a transcript.
I’ve appeared in The Saturday Paper for the first time today, in a story by journalist Martin McKenzie-Murray with the headline Web of abuse grows as online bullies spread malice. In my very first quoted sentence in this august journal, I drop the c-word.
It’s a talent.
McKenzie-Murray’s story is great. It explores the same issue as we discussed on ABC TV’s Lateline the other night, namely the hideous violent and sexually-explicit abuse women face online, and the rather disappointing response from the police. Once more, it’s based around the experiences of Caitlin Roper.
McKenzie-Murray goes further, though, and speaks to Roper’s key abuser.
“I disagreed with some of her [Roper’s] statements [about Ched Evans]. I used the word ‘rape’ only for effect however she took it personally. I’ve said many times before that logic would explain the fact that nobody intended on raping her and nobody wishes rape upon her. I did get carried away and did use some obscene language… however, they took a joke out of context and began a witch-hunt of sorts by posting my picture and personal information.”
“Logic,” eh? “Joke.”
It’s worth reading the article in full. Despite my presence in it.
Last week Collective Shout activist and campaigns manager Caitlin Roper told her story of the horrific misogynist abuse she’d received online, and what can most politely be called a disappointing response from the police.
I reluctantly went to the police station, already knowing that threats against women online are not regarded as a priority. “Why don’t you just close down your account?” asked the officer taking my statement.
I explained how I used Twitter in the course of my work for a non-profit organisation. She pressed further — “but why do you need to use it?” — as if it was somehow unreasonable for me to believe I had as much right as anyone to access social media without threats
Another colleague went to the police after one man described how he intended to mutilate her body and dissolve it in acid. The police officer suggested that the internet was “not a very nice place”, and maybe she should stay off it.
Last night, ABC TV’s Lateline did a follow-up story, the reported being John Stewart, and I provided a few comments.
It’s interesting that the one piece they used was about the internet putting everyone right next to everyone else:
It’s simply that within the past people were in communities, that were mostly made up of people like them or people they grew up with. If there was a violent part of town or a red-light district or whatever it might be, and you didn’t want to go there or you didn’t want to know about it, well you just didn’t go there. The problem is now on the internet all of that is right next to you as well and people are shocked by this. They’re suddenly discovering that there are people not like them. They have different attitudes to women, different attitudes to acceptable language, to religion, to class, to sporting teams, to clothing as we’ve seen in the media lately. Everything.
I also said that thanks to the internet, we are now building a global society, and yet policing is organised on a regional or even local basis.
While these women, and so many others, have experienced appalling abuse, in most cases there’s no credible threat. Even if the police cranked up the mechanisms of transnational police cooperation, there’d be little chance of a prosecution leading to a conviction. Their lack of follow-up reflects that unfortunate reality, as well as many police officers’ unfamiliarity with online life.
I daresay I’ll have further thoughts in this, because this story certainly isn’t going away.
Yes, I know they spelt my name wrong. Yes, I know they said “social media commentator”.
The online bullying of TV presenter Charlotte Dawson and the subsequent calls for an end to online anonymity was the topic for my spot on Phil Dobbie’s Balls Radio last night.
And as usual, the conversation wandered to other matters as well.
Here’s the audio of my segment. If you’d like more, Mr Dobbie has posted the full episode.
You can of course hear us talk live every Tuesday night from 7pm AEST on Sydney’s FM 99.3 Northside Radio.
I’m fairly sure that copyright remains with Mr Dobbie rather than being transferred to Northside Radio, but I’ll figure that out later.