Instagram's bullying, stalking, and harassment crisis

Twitter gets well-deserved attention for online harassment, but know who else has a huge problem there? Instagram. Big time. Read the rest

Lawyers: dildo-wielding cop hit men as well as women, so can't have been sexually harassing them

Lt. Thomas Murphy and Detective Sgt. Andrew Huber are named in a lawsuit against the city of Mountainside, New Jersey, which claims a large blue dildo was regularly whipped out to harass other employees. The city has a brilliant defense, though.

Mountainside is asking a judge to throw out an explosive sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the borough by five male police officers and a female dispatcher, partly on the grounds that alleged misconduct in the department -- including repeated displays of a large dildo -- was directed at both men and women.

The two attorneys for the plaintiffs are firing back, accusing Mountainside in their opposition brief of "presenting a frivolous argument that breaks new ground for absurd employment law defenses."

Bear in mind that the video embedded above is something they're using to claim it isn't harassment. Dildo Cop sounds like a good idea for a bad comic book. Read the rest

Want the platforms to police bad speech and fake news? The copyright wars want a word with you.

There are lots of calls for the platforms to police the bad speech on their platform -- disinformation and fake news; hate speech and harassment, extremist content and so on -- and while that would represent a major shift in how Big Tech relates to the materials generated and shared by its users, it's not without precedent. Read the rest

A new, free edition Sarah Jeong's "The Internet of Garbage"

Journalist Sarah Jeong (previously) was just appointed to the New York Times's editorial board, prompting garbage people to dig through her twitter for old posts that could be made to seem offensive out of context in the hopes of getting her fired. Read the rest

Accused harasser re-used apology email for several alleged victims

Wired's Nitasha Tiku reports that Justin Caldbeck, a venture capitalist with a number of sexual harassment claims made against him, sent apology emails containing the same wording to multiple recipients.

Several women who’ve received the apology emails compared notes and found similar or identical wording in the messages. Two emails viewed by WIRED included the line, “I also completely understand that you may not believe my actions yet to be sincere and it is up to me to demonstrate over time that they are.” Both also included slightly different versions of this sentence, “I want to first let you know how incredibly deeply and profoundly sorry for everything I did to make any woman feel uncomfortable.”

What could be more Silicon Valley than using a "Dear $girl" form letter to apologize to one's victims? A PHP script that scrapes LinkedIn to identify and preemptively form-apologize to likely future claimaints, perhaps. Read the rest

Time Person of the Year: The Silence Breakers

Time got it right: The Silence Breakers.

She recalls one screenwriter friend telling her that Weinstein's behavior was an open secret passed around on the whisper network that had been furrowing through Hollywood for years. It allowed for people to warn others to some degree, but there was no route to stop the abuse. "Were we supposed to call some fantasy attorney general of moviedom?" Judd asks. "There wasn't a place for us to report these experiences."

Finally, in October—when Judd went on the record about Weinstein's behavior in the New York Times, the first star to do so—the world listened.

Read the rest

Former Facebook exec Randi Zuckerberg "disgusted & degraded" by harassment on Alaska Airlines flight

Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook's former spokesperson and sister of founder Mark Zuckerberg, was told by Alaska Airlines flight crew to put up it when a fellow traveler sexually harassed her. She described herself as "disgusted & degraded" in an open letter to the airline's brass.

CNN:

Zuckerberg said the flight attendants offered to move her to a middle seat in the back of the plane, but she said she refused because she didn't feel she should have to give up her seat when she was the one being harassed.

Zuckerberg said she also learned that the comments were not unusual and that the flight attendants had previous conversations with the male passenger about his behavior. She said they told her "don't take it personally, this guy just doesn't have a filter." According to Zuckerberg, the man continued to make sexual comments throughout the flight.

The airline apologized and banned the harassing passenger. Moral of the story: if you're a woman and don't want to be shushed by a flight crew indifferent to the leering alcohol-soaked asshole in the next seat over, be powerful and famous enough to ruin their bosses' day.

Photo: Monika Flueckiger / World Economic Forum (CC) Read the rest

Catcalling citation cards

Sick of being harassed in public? Fill out this Catcalling Citation Card and hand it to that loser who's bugging you.

Here's the story behind the cards:

As a group of creatives and writers living and working in Brooklyn, we assembled to discuss the emotional and psychological toll involved with combatting harassers - and what to do about it. While we found that each of us employed different coping mechanisms ranging from screaming, to turning our camera lenses on intimidators, to attempts at fully ignoring the kissing noises and jeers, we all agreed on one thing: none of our reactions provided the satisfaction of communicating how catcalling makes us feel. After batting around a couple of ideas, Catcalling Citation Cards was born. Inspired in part by old school parking citations and in full by the opportunity to quickly convey information to our harassers, we packaged a straightforward, easy-to-digest design that gives users the ability to fill the cards out in advance, when they're in a comfortable, safe space and can more easily process the wide-ranging emotions associated with being catcalled. Best of all, you can hand one off without having to interrupt your day.

The cards are free to download at Got a Girl Crush.

Thanks, Isabel! Read the rest

NBC fires Matt Lauer over "inappropriate sexual behavior"

NBC fired Matt Lauer after learning Monday of The Today Show presenter's "inappropriate sexual behavior".

Co-host Savannah Guthrie announced the firing on-air, flanked by Hoda Kotb. A statement, attributed to NBC News chairman Andrew Lack, described a "a detailed complaint" that "represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment."

"While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News," Lack continued, "we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”

A New York Times exposé of The Today Show presenter is also expected imminently; questions related to it may have informed the decision to fire Lauer without delay.

"We just learned this moment ago, this morning," said Guthrie. "As I'm sure you can imagine, we are devastated. ... We do not know more than what we shared with you. ... I'm heartbroken for Matt. He is my dear, dear friend and my partner and he is loved by many people here. And I'm heartbroken for my brave colleague who came forward to tell her story."

Photo: David Shankbone Read the rest

What it takes to actually stop a determined, vengeful cyberstalker

In 2012, Courtney Allen was having a difficult time in her marriage and she struck up an online affair with a gamer in her alliance named Todd Zonis; when her husband Steven found out about it and she refused to break it off, he emailed her family, his family, and Zonis's family. Read the rest

A quantitative analysis of doxing: who gets doxed, and how can we detect doxing automatically?

A group of NYU and University of Illinois at Chicago computer scientists have presented a paper at the 2017 ACM Internet Measurement Conference in London presenting their findings in a large-scale study of online doxings, with statistics on who gets doxed (the largest cohort being Americann, male, gamers, and in their early 20s), why they get doxed ("revenge" and "justice") and whether software can detect doxing automatically, so that human moderators can take down doxing posts quickly. Read the rest

Six women accuse director Brett Ratner of misconduct

Another day, another Hollywood "missing stair" exposed: this time Brett Ratner, in the LA Times.

Olivia Munn said that while visiting the set of the 2004 Ratner-directed “After the Sunset” when she was still an aspiring actress, he masturbated in front of her in his trailer when she went to deliver a meal. Munn wrote about the incident in her 2010 collection of essays without naming Ratner. On a television show a year later, Ratner identified himself as the director, and claimed that he had “banged” her, something he later said was not true. The same year her book was published, Munn ran into Ratner at a party thrown by Creative Artists Agency and he boasted of ejaculating on magazine covers featuring her image, she told The Times.

She said that persistent false rumors that they had been intimate have infuriated her, prompting her to talk to The Times in support of other women who are “brave enough to speak up.”

Note the contrast. Even recently, a blithe and jocular contempt, boasting of what they get up to. Now? Terrified denials made through lawyers. The age of Trump is dissolving American manners, but manners also shield the worst among us.

Photo: Danny Moloshok/Reuters Read the rest

Watch Seth MacFarlane "joke" about Harvey Weinstein's harassment during a 2013 Oscars presentation

During the 2013 presentation of Oscar nominations, Seth MacFarlane joked about the open secret of Harvey Weinstein's vile harassment of actresses. "It's 'funny' 'cause it's true." (TMZ)

Read the rest

Caltech astrophysics professor who harassed women has resigned

Christian D. Ott, a tenured professor of theoretical astrophysics at the California Institute of Technology, has resigned in the wake of an investigation that found he had harassed two students.

From BuzzFeed:

"This has been a difficult situation for our community," the Caltech statement said. Caltech declined to provide any further comment to BuzzFeed News, and Ott did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to more than 1,000 pages of emails and chat messages submitted to the investigators, first publicly reported by BuzzFeed News, Ott had become infatuated with Kleiser, whom he then fired due to his feelings. He later confessed his actions in increasingly inappropriate and erratic emotional exchanges with Gossan.

Gossan filed a complaint with the university's Title IX office in the spring of 2015, which Kleiser joined soon after. Prior to Gossan's complaint, Kleiser had no idea she had been fired for reasons unrelated to her scientific work.

Kleiser is relieved that Ott resigned. But her experience with him, as well as the "lukewarm" response from many in the faculty to news of the problem, has led her to decide to leave academia once her PhD is complete.

"I didn’t see a lot of action on the part of people that I considered to be my role models in my field," Kleiser said. "So that’s kind of difficult, and I think that makes it harder to want to stay and eventually take a permanent position in a place like this."

Read the rest

Report condemns British police over failure to investigate stalking and harassment

In 112 recent cases of stalking and harassment reviewed by UK police watchdogs, "not a single one was dealt with properly," reports the BBC. The report, "Living in Fear," found that victims of harassment and stalking were widely disregard and left at risk, and often told that the harassment they received was their own fault.

One in five women and one in ten men report being stalked in the UK. The Crime Survey for England and Wales (as quoted by the BBC) reports 4.6% of women and 2.7% of men aged 16-59 were victims in 2015-16.

One victim said police made her feel she was to blame for receiving abusive messages on social media. "It was my fault for being on Facebook," she said.

The report also said police officers were failing to recognise repeated signs of a stalker, by treating each complaint in isolation rather than being part of a pattern.

That, in turn, meant police and prosecutors did not see the bigger picture and appreciate the full scale of the harm suffered by the victim.

Helen Pearson, from Devon, reported her stalker to the police 125 times over five years.

"They literally didn't want to know," she said. "I was a nuisance."

One victim publicly refused to accept an apology from Devon and Cornwall Police after being attacked by her stalker with a pair of scissors.

Helen Pearson, 34, suffered neck and face wounds when her neighbour Joseph Willis attacked her with scissors in an Exeter graveyard.

Read the rest

The truth about sexual harassment in Silicon Valley

In the New York Times, Katie Bienner relates a cultural shift in Silicon Valley: women victims of sexual harassment describing their experiences frankly. In an industry bound by delusions of meritocracy and egality, simply talking about it is radical.

More than two dozen women in the technology start-up industry spoke to The Times in recent days about being sexually harassed. Ten of them named the investors involved, often providing corroborating messages and emails, and pointed to high-profile venture capitalists such as Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital and Dave McClure of 500 Startups, who did not dispute the accounts.

The disclosures came after the tech news site The Information reported that female entrepreneurs had been preyed upon by a venture capitalist, Justin Caldbeck of Binary Capital. The new accounts underscore how sexual harassment in the tech start-up ecosystem goes beyond one firm and is pervasive and ingrained. Now their speaking out suggests a cultural shift in Silicon Valley, where such predatory behavior had often been murmured about but rarely exposed.

From the reports, Ellen Pao striking out in the courts only underscored the impunity enjoyed by these men.

Lindsay Meyer, an entrepreneur in San Francisco, said Mr. Caldbeck put $25,000 of his own money into her fitness start-up in 2015. That gave Mr. Caldbeck reason to constantly text her; in those messages, reviewed by The Times, he asked if she was attracted to him and why she would rather be with her boyfriend than him. At times, he groped and kissed her, she said.

Read the rest

Gentleman arrested after rudeness at beach

A Connecticut man who screamed "You will never ever, ever, stop me, my Christianity", thumped his chest, and menaced an Arab family on a Texas beach, was charged with public intoxication earlier this week, reports Fox News.

At one point the man can be heard hollering "Donald Trump will stop you. Donald Trump will stop you!" Before storming away, video shows him grabbing his crotch and yelling something obscene at the family, in front of several children.

The family posted the video to their YouTube account with a description of what took place:

While enjoying our time at the beach during a family reunion, our kids and us had to experience ugliness and aggressiveness in the worse shape and form possible. We were staying at the South Padre Pearl hotel and went to the beach through their private access. My father was approached by two woman who were also enjoying their time. The women asked him to help with talking to a stranger who was harassing them. All my father said to the guy was "please enjoy your time and have fun and let everyone else here enjoy their time." The guy seemed to listen and walked away. He then came back to my father and started throwing racist comments. He was yelling so loud that my uncles and my brother came over from the water to see what was going on.

Read the rest

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