Two Silicon Valley experts interviewed for a Wired Magazine piece about online harassment suggested that pop-ups could be used to “shame” people who make racist Internet posts or use offensive words.
In the context of a discussion about the need to create new “antiabuse tools,” developer Adria Richards endorsed the implementation of warnings that appear on people’s computer screens before they are able to post ‘offensive’ content.
“There could be little pop-up warnings: “Hey, a lot of people have reported they don’t like receiving this word. Do you still want to post this?” said Richards.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Nadia Kayyali agreed, remarking, “Can we shame people with pop-ups? Because shame seems to work a lot better. “Hey, did you know you’re being racist right now?”
Richards previously drew headlines when she attempted to publicly shame two men who made a joke about “big dongles” at a computer programming conference in 2013.
Richards took a photo of the men and posted it on Twitter despite the fact that the individuals apologized for making the joke. The case was seen by some as an example of how Twitter outrage culture is completely out of control.
The discussion also included feminist Anita Sarkeesian, who reiterated her assertion that being critical of someone’s viewpoint online could be tantamount to “harassment”.
“We need to broaden the definition of online harassment and abuse,” said Sarkeesian. “For example, someone will post a YouTube video that defames me, and then thousands of people will reply to that video and tweet at me “You liar” or “You dumb bitch.” That’s not a threat, but it’s still thousands of people coming after me, right?”
Last month, Sarkeesian and fellow feminist Zoe Quinn, both of whom have made careers out of raising money off the back of their complaints about “harassment,” went before a United Nations panel on “cyber violence” to make the same argument.
During her presentation, Quinn also asserted that transgender people were victims of “violence” as a result of individuals posting their “pre-transition names” on the Internet.
The Washington Post labeled the UN plan a “radical, dangerous vision for the future of the web,” warning that it could force social networks to, “Proactively police every profile and post, and (mandate) that government agencies only “license” those who agree to do so.”
Social media giants like Twitter and Facebook are already beginning to tighten the screws on what is considered “harassment”.
As we reported earlier this month, Twitter is now allowing users to report other account holders for “engaging in abusive or harassing behavior,” one example of which includes “disagreement with my opinion.”
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