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A Troubled Tangle of the Internet, Feminism, and Freedom

Last week, the concern was how Facebook protects the Users from its own manipulation. Now we all need to think about how well social media sites protect Users from . . . other Users. It is becoming increasingly clear that while the World Wide Web has given the world Wikipedia, Twitter, Vlogbrothers, and a float of replacement singers for many popular bands, there is also a sickness deep in the internet.

An emerging case study is GamerGate. Much like other stories of internet bullying, GamerGate is a single case of individuals being attacked by others over the internet. The case is worse that the primary victim is female. Again. And that is the real point: GamerGate is only noteworthy because the attackers claim to be morally justified have been quite effective. Some thing important is that the type of treatment of women on the internet is nothing new. For more on that, read this.

What I want to discuss, in the comments, is what can be done on the internet to counter act these very real trends of misogyny and bullying on the internet? As members of this “Noble Profession,” how can we improve the level of discourse on the internet? Should there be anonymity on the internet when people can use it to intimidate and abuse. Here I must point out that the Klu Klux Klan wears masks and Hitler’s political paramilitaries were known as “brown shirts” for their uniforms that made them harder identify when acting together. Of course these groups are responsible for some of the high crimes of history, not offensive images on the internet. The problem is that both cyber bullies and fascists use the same playbook by using intimidation, propaganda, and anonymity to torment people they don’t like. There is no reason to use these tactics. No moral cause can support them.

Just like racism, allowing such behavior in the name of free speech harms society, even the perpetrators. Just like racism, we all have to resist, and possibly suffer to see it end.

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