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Men are harassed online more, but like, seriously, its not about them - Pew 2017

July 21, 2017, 03:22:38 PM by kat
The Pew Research Center released its findings for "Online Harassment 2017". The key take-away from the survey results can be summed up with the following paragraphs;
Quote
More broadly, men and women differ sharply in their attitudes toward the relative importance of online harassment as an issue. For instance, women (63%) are much more likely than men (43%) to say people should be able to feel welcome and safe in online spaces, while men are much more likely than women to say that people should be able to speak their minds freely online (56% of men vs. 36% of women). Similarly, half of women say offensive content online is too often excused as not being a big deal, whereas 64% of men – and 73% of young men ages 18 to 29 – say that many people take offensive content online too seriously. Further, 70% of women – and 83% of young women ages 18 to 29 – view online harassment as a major problem, while 54% of men and 55% of young men share this concern.

Attitudes toward different policies to prevent online harassment also differ somewhat by gender. Men are more likely than women to believe that improved policies and tools from online companies are the most effective approach to addressing online harassment (39% vs. 31%). Meanwhile, women are more likely to say that stronger laws against online harassment are the most effective approach (36% vs. 24%), and they are also more likely to feel that law enforcement currently does not take online harassment incidents seriously enough (46% vs. 39%). [link] (emphasis added)

If its not clear from the above quote, essentially the research makes plain that men actually receive more harassment online, not women. That there are significant differences between the sexes in how they see and react to harassment; women (#notallwomen) being far more likely than men (#notallmen) to; impugn, make and take issue with the behaviour of others; perceive all forms of harassment equally; and crucially in this discussion, look to others for help, law-enforcement, the legal and political systems included[1].

This difference, or more accurately, the consequences of it, that certain types of individual and groups are more prone to take offense, is the story of online harassment and cyber-bullying, intentionally and often ideologically misrepresented such that men (and boys) simply don't matter unless portrayed as perpetrators despite the facts.

Unfortunately for the Internet at large, freedom of expression (#freepresso) and freedom of speech (#freezepeach) in general, politicians, advocacy groups and ne'er-do-well's[2] understand this difference between the sexes only too well, specifically targeting women because of it, with assistive programs[3] and legislative promises that don't solve the problem on ground, often being little more than electoral, editorial or issue pandering and sensationalism, self-aggrandisement, or legislative power-grabs and/or over-sight over-reach advocated for through carefully crafted language meant to dominate public discourse, dangerous to oppose, of narratives that feed into and misappropriate the public's general desire for (social) justice.

But anyway, the bullet points from the report;
  • "Harassment is often focused on personal or physical characteristics; political views, gender, physical appearance and race are among the most common."
  • "62% consider [harassment] a major problem; online companies are seen as key actors in addressing online harassment."
  • "Americans are divided on the issues of free speech and political correctness that underlie the online harassment debate."
  • "Experiences and attitudes toward online harassment vary significantly by gender."
  • "Harassment exists on a spectrum of severity: Those who have experienced severe forms of online harassment differ sharply in their reactions and attitudes."
  • "Online harassment is often subjective – even to those experiencing the worst of it."
  • "Anonymity is seen as a facilitating factor in encouraging the spread of harassment online."
Additional Resources
- How to stop online harassment, bullying and abuse.
- "Nearly half of women who use social media say they have been sexually victimised".
- "Cyberbullying and adolescent well-being in England: a population-based cross-sectional study".

Further Reading
- Harassment of women now a "hate crime".
- 50% of women are misogynists.
- Freedom of speech ends where threats abound.
- Violence against males in games doesn't count... another study that 'proves' it.


Footnotes:
[1] Contrary to the narrative
, Pew (and other) research persistently exposes women (#notallwomen) being only too willing to, for want of a better way of putting it, "damsel" themselves when they face harassment and abuse online, counting on others to come to their aid or fix the problem, that being "brave" and "strong" comes from encouraging victimisation (on social media in particular) instead of victory, succumbing to adversity rather than surmounting it. In other words this seemingly natural tendency does not negate the fact that people in general are more likely to publicise their vistimisation, how they are being harassed and abuse, rather than their victories, how they over-came and solved the problem themselves.

With this in mind the difference in outlook likely explains why men and women tend to see harassment differently, which then makes it difficult to prosecute as an criminal offense - the same event is more likely to make women feel victimised, whereas for men it won't. For example assault, theft, murder are ostensibly physical acts, someone is physically hindered, harmed, or had property taken etc., so there is an objective 'test' the Courts can perform to determined not just whether something has happened, but also the degree of severity. Contextually this makes online harassment and abuse is almost entirely subjective (caveat: where the persons involved know one another, harassment and abuse is easier to prosecute as if often forms part of on-going physical communications, intimidation and so on - they know where the other lives - a girl sending abuse, harassment, threats to the new partner of their ex, or to a fellow student, class or work mate).

[2] A number of self-proclaimed 'advocacy' and 'support' groups have popped up in recent years claiming to help those subject to online harassment and abuse (although evidence of this is anecdotal). Unfortunately it appears some of the more notorious groups use highly questionable tactics themselves as counter-measures, often employing similar/same/severe harassing, bullying, brigading (organising or otherwise encouraging a group of individuals to act in a particular way or towards an individual or target), (in)directly inflaming, inciting, instigating or siccing targeted cyber-mods (similar to 'brigading' but less directed, often relies of the viral nature of events to coalesce individuals towards a given goal or aim) in return ("would hate something to happen to [person]"), often unapologetically advocated through a network of prominent press and media familiars.

[3] Due to the global scope of the problem there isn't a comprehensive accounting of the number of groups and resources available to women versus men because keeping tabs in such a way can be seen (and often is by advocates) as an 'oppression'. Searching Google with "women's rights online" returns 21 million hits whereas "men's rights online" return approximately 10 million, but again, discussing the issue from the men as perpetrators perspective. The upshot of this disparity is that it effectively and completely poisons the well towards male orientated research and investigation as men and boys are only ever seen as perpetrators in public discourse, that when questioned is vociferously castigated by proponents of that narrative, opposition then seen as apologism for masculinity, maleness and associated behaviours (for good or bad).

[ --- ]

That men (and boys) tend to face more harassment online than women (and girls) is not news to anyone sufficiently interested in reading the actual data available on the subject[4]. Instead politicians, other government officials and authorities, advocacy groups and a vocal but aggressive social media cliquey minority, somehow manage to create a 'post-fact', 'post-truth' interpretation that's not quite an outright (big) lie, but not entirely objectively truthful either, a (mis)representation recycled to justify denying, ignoring, hand-waving, excusing or refusing to acknowledge the bare-faced facts, to the point of mendacious obfuscation or being outright obstructionist[5].

And all largely, it seems, because men (and boys) being the butt of everyone's animosity is just the natural consequence of their "privileged" position in society, their "unearned" roles within a system alleged to be made by them for them, entirely for their benefit. In this context men and boys simply have it coming, they are fair-game, their admonishment and shaming wholly justified. To speak up or speak out is apologism, (not even tacit) approval, being pro injustice.

This predicament does not make the News either, at least not unless it can be 'weaponised'[6] or 'commoditised'[7] in some way, used as a means to advocate specifically for an end to the harassment of [group] (usually women or minorities) rather than against the harassment of everyone generally. In such an environment, anti-male sentiment is emboldened and propagates, rationalised as pay-back for "male privilege". How then can the problem of online harassment as a thing that can happen to anyone be truly solved when only one side of the story is told or cared to be heard.

[4] Historical data tracking Internet use does exist i.e., who's using the Internet and for what, but not specifically for "online harassment" and "cyber-bullying", both of which appear to be relatively new issues, or more correctly, are modern (re)categorisations of 'online safety and security' concerns as relates to making sure banks, shopping, identity information and usage is 'secure' and 'safe' (e.g. from 2005, 2000). Where data and information does exist however, its typically highly (intentionally) skewed in favour of biased advocacy.

[5] Typically, and perhaps predictably, the response to that fact that men and boys tends to be harassed more is similar to "men may be harassed more but they don't get sexually harassed as much". Whilst this is true specifically with regards to types of harassment, focusing entirely on this sub-aspect of harassment more broadly, and perhaps ironically, marginalises and diminishes the abuse men and boy face online, creating a wholly misleading picture of harassment and abuse on the Internet; EVERYONE is potentially subject to it.

[6] The 'weaponisation' of harassment means its used as a tool of aggressive persuasion by gender advocates, politicians and authorities alike, because they all gain something from its wielding, perhaps authority (hard to establish), likely publicity (easy to establish), but more often money (incredibly lucrative) - public grants, private donations and other forms of remuneration (property, material, physical goods and services). Its also used by academia to establish what can only be described as a non-falsifiable, self-justifying narrative, e.g., for Jan-July 2017 (the time of writing) Google Scholar returns 10,700 results for papers and articles on "online harassment", 7,370 for "online harassment women" and 6,560 for "online harassment men". This last figure is wholly misleading however, an inconvenient truth, as the results of "online harassment men" isn't about 'the online harassment OF men', their being harassed (victims), but of 'online harassment BY men', their being harassers (perpetrators), a narrative so strong it completely overwhelms the research data and creates an overarching frame of reference in the broader discussion that its not really about harassment per se, but harassment BY men, that harassment is an expression or byproduct of maleness and masculinity.

[7] A number of online sources suggest that "women rights" advocacy, the broader category of advocacy under which online harassment falls (harassment is an infringement various 'freedoms' if not specifically 'right's), is considered to be underfunded compared to other initiatives. Figures vary from $100 million globally to tens of millions for individual charitable causes (e.g. link). On one hand then, dealing with online harassment would seem to be, comparatively, a poorly funded and understood avenue of advocacy, but on the other quite the opposite in the broader context of advocating for the rights of children (UK, Int'l), of global (women's) health initiatives (family planning et al), sanitation, food, the advancement of education, all of which typically centre around the matriarchal (female) aspect of the family (e.g. link). In other words whilst 'women's rights' might be argued separately to be underfunded by self-interested advocates, it falls within the much larger remit afforded of a multi-billion dollar 'industry', most of which is (allegedly) spent not where its truly needed, but instead in Westernised Nations largely as a reflection of the fact that a majority of charity work and advocacy is carried out in Western Countries, the UK, USA, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and so on, and by Western International Organisation and NGO's (e.g. World Bank, UN etc.).

Bethesda CreationClub or paid mods, again

June 12, 2017, 08:03:29 PM by kat

[image courtesy CreationClub]

Bethesda introduced CreationClub at this years E3 and has taken steps to reiterate the new initiative is NOT "paid mods" (#notpaidmods).
Quote
Is Creation Club paid mods?
No. Mods will remain a free and open system where anyone can create and share what they’d like.
So just what is what is CreationClub then?
Quote
Creation Club is a collection of all-new content for both Fallout 4 and Skyrim. It features new items, abilities, and gameplay created by Bethesda Games Studios and outside development partners including the best community creators. Creation Club content is fully curated and compatible with the main game and official add-ons.
It appears then that CreationClub is not just a new iteration of Paid Mods, at least not directly. With that said however, and although paid content didn't work out quite so well the last time it was tried via Steam, it looks like Bethesda learned a few things from the experience nonetheless, that gamers;
  • do want new content and more frequently.
  • are more than happy to pay for it (subject to "3").
  • don't want to pay for previously free content (being especially leery of 'leaches'[1]).
  • wanted guaranties co-dependent mods worked properly.
  • and copyright/authorship wouldn't be an issue[2].
The only way to resolve a lot of these questions is for publishers to 'curate' or 'manage' User Generated Content to some degree. This is what Bethesda appears to have done with CreationClub; in limiting participation to a select few, proved, developers (individuals or otherwise)[3], Bethesda is then able to provide (premium/paid) content at an accelerated rate that works (subject to the usual caveats about games and content ordinarily working), absent ownership issues, whilst simultaneously leaving freely available community mods untouched.
Quote
Most of the Creation Club content is created internally, some with external partners who have worked on our games, and some by external Creators. All the content is approved, curated, and taken through the full internal dev cycle; including localization, polishing, and testing. This also guarantees that all content works together.

Further Reading
- Paid Mods and why they don't work


Footnotes:
[1] a big concern over paid mods was the potential it carried for the more unscrupulous to 'leach' from the community by simply reselling mods and content without change they had no hand in authoring, and the difficulties this subsequently presents from a remedial perspective (how to hold 'anon' individuals to account for misappropriation).

[2] from a creators point of view anytime publishing content involves money its becomes subject to abuse. Aside from concerns over content leaching, Copyright and Authorship can be difficult to prove, to such an extent that production can be stymied having to constantly deal with disputes over Copyright or ownership.

[3] participants in the program are likely treated as though they are commercial content developers, likely required to provide identifying information so they can be held to account should there be issues, especially so given the fact that money is involved.

YouTube Clarifying Demonetization & Controversial Content

June 03, 2017, 02:11:36 AM by kat
YouTube demonetization isn't censorship

Following on the previous post on the topic of YouTube using demonetization as a form of 'soft' censorship, it appears, at least from a public-facing perspective, that Google and YouTube are indeed demonetizing controversial topics simply as a means to "restore advertiser confidence" - notwithstanding the 'lack' of confidence this implies being used by certain corporations and advocacy groups as leverage against controversial topics (advertisers have always had the ability to 'block' certain content against which their adverts might have appeared) and their political opposition. But that's by-the-by as the real meat of the matter is the clarification on what Google/YouTube consider "controversial" content;

Quote
Hateful content: Content that promotes discrimination or disparages or humiliates an individual or group of people on the basis of the individual’s or group’s race, ethnicity, or ethnic origin, nationality, religion, disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other characteristic associated with systematic discrimination or marginalization.

Inappropriate use of family entertainment characters: Content that depicts family entertainment characters engaged in violent, sexual, vile, or otherwise inappropriate behavior, even if done for comedic or satirical purposes.

Incendiary and demeaning content: Content that is gratuitously incendiary, inflammatory, or demeaning. For example, video content that uses gratuitously disrespectful language that shames or insults an individual or group.

It's clear from this YouTube/Google are placing more of their eggs into the YouTube TV and "family-friendly" content basket (as is their 'right'), a move obligating them to tone-down or obfuscate troubling material so they can comfortably court the big networks (Disney, et al). In other words, they are shifting away from the politics of being the "platform for all voices" to one that's 'safe', more unified and neutered in outlook, at least from the outside.

For creators with contrarian or controversial politics, points of view or axes to grind, YouTube has made it quite clear that whilst such content is still welcome, it won't be promoted or easily monetised. It's up to Creators to decide what to do with this in mind as YouTubes loss of revenue, which prompted this change, isn't going anywhere.

Further Reading
- EU Commission & Restricting YouTube for the Public Good
- YouTube (Google), demonetization and censorship
- Illegal Hate Speech, the EU and Tech
- Improving Content ID for creators
- Twitters Trust & Safety Council and "free expression"
- Free Speech & Expectations of Privacy on Social Media

EU Commission & Restricting YouTube for the Public Good

May 27, 2017, 12:35:14 AM by kat


Under the newly established (legislatively proposed) regulatory group, the "European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA)"[1], the European Commission is to grant itself oversight over 'audio-visual' service like YouTube, or those capable of providing similar/comparable services (social media sites like Facebook, Twitter et al), such that content can be restricted "in the public interest" in a way that would otherwise be contrary to the protections previously afforded them through the EU's equivalent of US 'safe harbor' laws. In the European Commission doing this, YouTube & Co. are essentially released from the incumbent liabilities that might otherwise be applicable to the provision of service were content not restricted; the European Commission is essentially saying "you can have your precious 'freeze peach' but you will liable for the content served (you American/English pig-dog)!".

In other words, YouTube et al can have their 'freedom of speech' to provide content to consumers as they see fit (subject to User ToS compliance), but they will be wholly liable for content deemed 'offensive' and 'objectionable'. Or... they can allow the EU Commission regulative authority over content/their respective services and as a result (essentially) be granted a liability exemption. In either case Service Providers are still obligated with addressing complaints, especially where they concern "hate speech"[2].

Quote
Video-sharing platform services provide audiovisual content which is increasingly accessed by the general public and in particular by young people. This also applies to social media services that have become an important medium to share information, entertain and educate, including by providing access to programmes and user-generated videos ... Furthermore they also have a considerable impact in that they facilitate the possibility for users to shape and influence the opinions of other users. Therefore, in order to protect minors from harmful content and all citizens from incitement to hatred, violence and terrorism, it is reasonable to require that these services should be covered by this Directive (emphasis added). [pg.5]



Additional Reading
- Illegal Hate Speech, the EU and Tech ("Code of Conduct on Countering Illigal Hate Speech Online")
- Freedom of speech ends where threats abound ("Violence against Women & Girls: on gender equality and empowering women in the digital age")
- Consultation on Interim Revised CPS Guidelines on Prosecuting Social Media Cases
- Draft Investigatory Powers Bill
- More Police interested in harassment as hate
- Harassment of women now a "hate crime"
- UK Government pushed to consider "sexism" rating for games
- Twitters Trust & Safety Council and "free expression"
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms or Discrimination against Women


Footnotes:
[1] The European Commission ostensibly self-authors the establishment of regulatory bodies that are, as in this instance, typically only accountable to the Commission itself (they are not specifically accountable to EU member Countries although the Commission is, in principle, supposed to be representative).

[2] The Directive proposal appears to the consequence of an earlier ERGA report on "Protection of Minors in the Audiovisual Media Services: Trends & Practices" - "The report focuses on the tools currently being used by the audiovisual media service providers to help parents to protect children from content that may be unsuitable or potentially harmful to their development or overall well-being. By outlining the types of measures with concrete examples from the representative sample of the audiovisual media providers active in various EU member states, it is laying the foundations for further ERGA activities with the aim of fostering cooperation among stakeholders to protect children in the audiovisual media environment".

Code of Conflict or the complicated Ethics of VR/AR/MR

May 06, 2017, 01:40:44 AM by kat


Subtitle: "the toxic infiltration of politicised "Code of Conduct" documents in open source communities - one 'covenant' to rule them all".
The following should not be construed as legal or otherwise formal advice. Where appropriate consult a suitably qualified contract, business or legal representative for assistance.
Keeping Users 'safe' in VR isn't a new issue, the games, interactive and social media industries have long wrestled with the problem to varying degrees of success which, at the end of the day, ostensibly hinge on Terms of Service violations rather than perceived behavioural transgressions. In other words when an individual is reported for harassing or abusing another, they are not reprimanded for the actual abuse or harassment, but instead for the terms of service violation this constitutes[1]

It's important to understand the distinction here, developers are bound by service agreements unless there are broader violations of societal law involving the service itself, trafficking credit-card information for example. In this sense internet harassment or abuse are not 'crimes' from a service providers point of view (despite media rhetoric on the matter), as such this makes perceived abuses and harassment of the individual the domain of the individual, it is they who are obliged to prosecute in the absolutist legal sense[2], subpoenaing the provider for records[3] where necessary. Essentially outside service agreement violations service providers cannot offer, provide or imply remedial punishments for subjectively perceived criminal behaviour, they can only record incidents and reprimand Users based on what's defined by the User Agreements.

Where potentially 'criminal' or 'offensive' activities do occur, the service providers obligation is typically to the security of the service rather than the User, at least to the degree the provider ensures 'offensive' (in the criminal sense of an 'offense' having occurred), illegal or criminal activities don't affect Users as a direct consequence of service provision. Even then if the service somehow facilitates the theft of personal data for example, they are generally indemnified, another binding term typically included in their respective service agreements. In totality this means it's important Users read them.

With all this in mind, the current pathologically anxiety about who to blame for bad in-game, in-VR experiences, has advocates, activists, acolytes and supporters fronting politicised Codes of Conduct[4] policies as a solution to VR's "ethics" problems and the general toxicity of gaming and the internet, missing the point entirely; Codes of Conduct's are not politicised manifestos or the domain of thinly disguised progressive politics, they are functional, binding documents backed by the force of (contract) law[5].

For business this means these generic documents are not worth the trouble they represent, more so when their respective authors are rarely if ever held to account or can be found responsible for fall-out from such ill-conceived, poorly defined, politically driven policies[6]. The use of boiler plate Terms of Service agreements, User Agreements, Code of Conducts, or other generic, third-party 'rule' or 'policy' documents should be avoided because there are just too many statutory risks involved and unintended legal consequences to not being in full ownership of a given service and any accompanying legal documents[7].

Further Reading
- 50% of women are misogynists.
- Consultation on Interim Revised CPS Guidelines on Prosecuting Social Media Cases.
- Harassment of women now a "hate crime".
- More Police interested in harassment as hate.
- Violence against males in games doesn't count... another study that 'proves' it.



Footnotes:
[1] there's a reason why "by clicking "submit" you indicate agreement to our Terms of Service" exists.

[2] barring the obvious, it's up to the individual to determine whether another's behaviour is actionable. Once that has been determined, and law enforcement is involved, pursuit is up to the individual. This is notwithstanding the fact that there are strict evidentiary tests in place to determine whether the accused is 'shit-posting' versus being genuinely harassing. In the UK for example the Crown Prosecution has this to say; "[a] communication sent has to be more than simply offensive to be contrary to the criminal law. Just because the content expressed in the communication is in bad taste, controversial or unpopular, and may cause offence to individuals or a specific community, this is not in itself sufficient reason to engage the criminal law".

[3] this is why its crucial the first port of call is to report any incidents of harassment or abuse so there is a record, irrespective as to whether anything being done about the incident - these records form the basis upon which a criminal case can be built. Unfortunately too many advocacy and activist groups advise victim to not waste their time doing this, wholly missing the point why victims should make or file reports. Anyone advocating this should be resoundingly ignored.

[4] the most popular Code of Conduct used in FoSS and OSS communities is the "Contributor Covenant". It is a political document whose author(s) appears to have little or  no grounding in Law, Business or respective Contracting.

[5] the code of conduct documents at the heart of this discussion are not community aids, their point is exactly political leverage, to gather "allies", "advocate" and "activists", collateral and agents willing to spread of the politics the documents espoused and/or endorsed. They are not intended to be used in any formal binding sense, which is why their authors won't allow themselves to be held accountable for the fallout from their use (cf. 6 below).

[6] on the (thankfully) rare occasions something does happen, the Code of Conduct authors either disappear, become unreachable, or in rare instances issue pithy Twitter tweets or Facebook messages absolving themselves of any wrong-doing, insisting the project or business wasn't forced to adopt the Code of Conduct - glossing over the social-ostracising and shaming tactics typically employed by acolytes and supporters in the press and across social media to (almost universally passive-aggressively) coerce compliance. In other words they never, if very rarely admit fault. This puts all the onus and legal consequences of a problem squarely in the hands of the project or business that employed someone else's conduct policies whilst having little inkling as to the authors intent behind the language used.

[7] for business the danger of using third-party user agreements, be they the types of Codes discussed in the above or not, that have not been specifically drawn up by legal council to match the service provided is ostensibly two-fold; 1) is the implied transfer of liability (real or not) and 2) it presents a lack of ownership over whatever service is being provided. Both have potentially actionable consequences for business owners.
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