Behind the keyboard, you’re anonymous. Gender, age, location, race. This means that the ability to say things that you wouldn’t say in person, is greatly increased.
“The Internet has opened up new possibilities for the realisation of the right to freedom of expression. This is due to the Internet’s unique characteristics, including ‘its speed, worldwide reach and relative anonymity’.” (AHRC, 2014)
Unfortunately, online trolls use their freedom of speech is the wrong way. How we act online has long-term implications that extend beyond the internet.
Did you ever have an ask.fm?
I have seen people slammed with anonymous hate and sexual references. They knew who you were but you had no idea who they were. It was a forum to say whatever you wanted to say to someone without them knowing who said it. As a woman on the internet, seeing comments such as “nice rack”, “best ass” and others as explicit as, “go and kill yourself”, it scared me to see that women gave men the ability and power to publicly sexualise and shame them.
Hess (2014), argues that gendered harassment has severe implications for women’s status on the Internet and their place in the digital era.
“Feminine usernames incurred an average of 100 sexually explicit or threatening messages a day. Masculine names received 3.7.” (ABS, 2014)
Women have however, formed an area where they can comfortable talk to other women online about harrassment they have been recieving. A twitter trend highlighting sexual abuse- #mencallmethings.
The movement is empowering women to respond to their abusers with the same functionality the trolls take for granted – a platform to call out, name and shame. This is a step in the right direction to target those who shame women online.
We wouldn’t tolerate it in a cafe, on the street, in the workplace, at university, so WHY do we tolerate it on the internet?
AHRC 2013, 3 Freedom of expression and the Internet, Australian Human Rights Commission, viewed 15/5/14, < https://www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/background-paper-human-rights-cyberspace/3-freedom-expression-and-internet >
Gibson 2011, #Mencallmethings: Twitter Trend Highlights Sexist Abuse Online, Time, viewed 15/5/14, < http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/11/08/mencallmethings-twitter-trend-highlights-sexist-abuse-online/ >
Hess 2014, Why women aren’t welcome on the internet, Pacific Standard, viewed 15/5/14, < http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/women-arent-welcome-internet-72170/ >