The Language of Online Abuse – Seven Forms of Antisocial Behaviour

Reblogged from the English & Media Centre’s emagazine.

If we were to look only at the media, it would be easy to think that online abuse only started recently. From about 2010 onwards, we find a continually increasing number of stories of celebrities receiving online abuse. However, the perspective that the media provides can give a fairly skewed impression of what’s actually happening. Firstly, famous people are not the only ones to suffer antisocial online behaviour – just about anyone can find themselves on the receiving end of hurtful, offensive, and threatening messages. Secondly, internet abuse has been around only a little while less than the internet itself – around forty years. And thirdly, there is a surprising number of antisocial online behaviours, ranging from the mildly annoying through to the extremely dangerous. To start with this last point first, it’s worth knowing about just a few of the types of antisocial online behaviour, but for reasons of space, we’ll cover just seven. Continue reading

Trolling stays with you, long after the abuse

Reblogged from The Conversation.

As someone who researches online behaviours such as trolling, cyberbullying, and cyberstalking, I have, from time to time, ended up on the receiving end of abusive online behaviour myself.

Out of a wide and varied selection, I’ve had a well-educated “independent researcher” delivering tirades of colourful ad hominem attacks while asking for copies of all my publications in comments in between. A second spent some considerable effort constructing an online profile of me, complete with posts, which, for simplicity’s sake, I’ll describe as “not complimentary”. And a third has sent me a catalogue of emails wrathfully explaining how I’m part of a media and pharmaceutical-based plot to censor America. (Just America, apparently…) Continue reading

Media summary: January 2014

In January 2014, the story of Stan Collymore’s racial harassment broke and I was interviewed by BBC Sport, Radio 5 Live (twice), and BBC’s Newsnight. Due to being eight months pregnant at the time I was obliged to turn down requests to travel to London for interviews with Sky and to Manchester for an interview with BBC Breakfast. I was also commissioned to write articles on antisocial online behaviour for the English & Media Centre’s magazine, eMag, and for The Conversation (twice).

Twitter bullies must learn that with a voice comes responsibility

Reblogged from The Guardian.

For many, the internet embodies an idealised vision of democracy – a liberal, open-minded environment that promotes free speech and provides a platform for alternative views. Once, only the powerful and wealthy had a voice which largely operated as a monologue; the elite spoke, and the masses listened. In turn, the masses drowned out the voices of the powerless and poor. This hierarchy, established over centuries, has been short-circuited in mere decades by the internet, in the form of article comments, government e-petitions, and social media sites such as Twitter. Now, the words or deeds of the powerful can trigger a loud and sustained response that is hard to ignore. It’s easy to see the benefits of this. Marginalised and wronged groups have been able to use online campaigns to usher us all forward into a more enlightened era in which we are more open-minded about the LGBQT community, disability, race, religion and so forth.

In the perfect sweep of democratic even-handedness that characterises the internet, however, a voice is given to all, including those who use it to be abusive and intimidating. Continue reading