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Charting what harassment looks like on Twitter

harassment

While the pervasive problem of harassment on Twitter is far from solved, the social media platform has recently been taking steps towards finding solutions; and thanks to the non-profit group Women, Action and the Media, which partnered with Twitter late last year, we now have an interesting snapshot of what harassment looks like on Twitter, and how Twitter responds to it.

For several weeks last November, WAM participated in a pilot project where they acted as an "authorized reporter" for Twitter. This meant that users could report abusive behavior on the platform to WAM, which would then evaluate and escalate the reports they validated to Twitter. They also planned to "work with Twitter to better understand how gendered harassment functions on their platform, and to improve their responses to it."

Today, WAM released an analysis of the data they received during those three weeks. They also offered recommendations for improving how Twitter responds to harassment, which included developing tools to address "tweet and delete" attacks, adopting a clearer definition of harassment that moves beyond the limited standard of direct threats, and giving all users access to opt-in filtering the currently enjoyed only by verified users.

It also offered information on how Twitter responded to differing types of reported behavior. There was punitive action in 55 percent of cases, and WAM notes that Twitter was most likely to take action again reported hate speech, and the least likely to take action against reports of doxxing:

twitter-harassment

This not a scientific study by any means; the instances of harassment are self-reported, and the sample size is relatively small, with a little over 800 reports. Still, it's an interesting glimpse of what harassment on Twitter looks like, particularly in the absence of more substantive data from Twitter itself.

Read the full report here, and take a look at the accompanying infographic for more.

Twitter's got a new troll stick

New policies at Twitter for reporting, automatic message muting, and enforcement could turn the noise way down for users subject to harassment.Read the rest

Twitter announces new block tool, ban on threats

ROA-twitter Messages identified as abusive will not appear on notification timelines, thanks to a new filtering system designed to prevent harassment from being seen by its targets.

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HOAX: TV show tricks chronic catcallers into harassing their own mothers

Update: These are staged -- it's an ad for Everlast, and not a TV show as I had believed.

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Tech companies should do something about harassment, but not this

Online harassment is real, it's terrible, and tech companies can and should do more about it -- but when the normally sensible Jessica Valenti wrote in the Guardian that tech companies could solve online harassment in a snap by implementing a system like Youtube's Content ID, she wasn't just wrong, she was dangerously wrong.

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Serial offenders plague Twitter

Glenn Fleishman reports on how the platform could fix its harassment problem.Read the rest

Woman who documented sexual harassment receives rape threats

Shoshana B Roberts spent 10 hours walking the streets of New York with a hidden camera crew, documenting over 100 catcalls (plus countless less-visible forms of harassment), as part of a campaign from Hollaback, who work to fight street harassment of women.

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TSA goes through woman's luggage, finds sex toy, leaves pervy note

"Just unpacked my suitcase and found this note from TSA," tweets writer and attorney Jill Filipovic of Feministe. "Guess they discovered a 'personal item' in my bag. Wow."

It was a standard-issue we got all up in your baggagebusiness Transportation Security Administration Notice of Inspection (NOI), but with these handwritten words in pen, overlaid: "GET YOUR FREAK ON GIRL."

"Total violation of privacy, wildly inappropriate and clearly not ok," Filipovic writes in a post titled Your Tax Dollars at Work, "but I also just died laughing in my hotel room."

The "personal item" in question, Ms. Filipovic tells Boing Boing, was this $15 "Silver Bullet" vibrator from Babeland. I suppose a case could be made that an airport screener would have a legitimate reason to probe more deeply see what I did there you guys if this sort-of-ammo-shaped sex toy popped up on an imaging display. But the creepy note? Yeah, that definitely didn't have to happen. And TSA agents behaving badly with female travelers' intimate stuff? Not uncommon. Nor are women the only recipients of inappropriate notes from screeners.

So was it still there when she retrieved her luggage, I asked Filipovic?

"Yes, the vibe was still there. No theft, but I'm unsure if they handled it. Given that uncertainty, it's definitely being retired."