Let’s talk about trolls!

If you are using social media, for sure you have met some trolls (if hopefully you are not one of them yourselves!).It is impossible to miss them since they are all around us. For those who control the narative, trolling others might seem attractive, as it is usually done from a safe perspective, though it is never equally fun for the person who is being hit by it. If we tried to make it simple, we could say that trolls are the masters of adding oil into fire, but in many cases it can easily get out of control. Trolling is defined as creating discord on the internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people by posting inflammatory or off-topic messages in an online community. “Social media troll” is someone who purposely says something controversial in order to get a rise out of other users. If you’re an active social media user, chances are that you have experienced trolling in one way or another. During the times the term has changed a lot, in order to receive the above mentioned context. It was initially invented to describe behaviours with no intention to harm and some people still stick to this context. However, it is very important that we accept the „new“ meaning of the term, in order to respond properly to this kind of negative acting. Trolling is omnipresent in the digitl word, with great emphasis on the social media environment: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all other available channels of online interaction. Trolling isn’t hard to spot, even if you are not sure exactly what to look for. You just... read more

Doxing – a modern wolf!

Online space feels really comfortable: you can surf and search and express yourself online, hiding behind anonimity – noone knows who you are or how you look like! When you are anonymus you can „spare“ yourself from negative reactions and comments and feel completely safe behind a creative nickname or a funny avatar. Correct? Doxing is the shortcut for “dropping dox”. It is an online attack in which hackers dig up personal information and documents aiming to expose the real identities of people who are hoping to remain anonymous. The goal is often to shame or harass a victim. For instance, hackers might expose the identity of an anonymous message board troll as a way to embarrass them. They might hope that the victim loses their job or is shunned by co-workers or friends. So…what is the lesson here? It is as simple as…be careful with what you share online! You might think that the virtual world gives you the freedom to say — or type — whatever you want. You might think that creating fake identities gives you the chance to express whatever opinions you have, no matter how controversial, without anyone ever tracing them back to you. Sorry to bother you but…this is not the case! Doxing attacks are REAL. And it’s hard to completely hide your identity online – unless you are some super IT expert and you can manage to minimize the chances of your online identity being revealed. As a result, the best defense against doxing is to be extra careful with what you post online, and to never share private information on forums,... read more

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

The United Nations General Assembly has designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The premise of the day is to raise awareness of the fact that women around the world are subject to rape, domestic violence and other forms of violence; furthermore, one of the aims of the day is to highlight that the scale and true nature of the issue is often hidden. Prevention is the 2015 theme of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and of the UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign’s 16 days call for action. This year, at the official commemoration at UN Headquarters in New York, the first UN Framework on Preventing Violence against Women will be launched and discussed. This document stems from the collaboration of seven UN entities: UN Women, ILO, OHCHR, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA and WHO. The framework develops a common understanding for the UN System, policymakers and other stakeholders on preventing violence against women and provides a theory of change to underpin... read more

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Violence Against Women

Information and communication technology (ICT) are tools and platforms that we use for our communication and information needs. Some examples include radios, mobile phones, television broadcasting and the Internet. Sometimes ICT can be defined in the “old” and in a “new” way. The “old” method is defined as one where information is sent in analog format such as a radio. A “new” method is one where information is sent in a digital format, such as wireless technology. The main cause of violence against women lies in unequal power relations between men and women in almost all aspects of life. Acts of violence against women in the material world are replicated and are being committed in various ways within the virtual world. There are at least two ways to see how ICT affect power relations: Introducing ICT are able to transmit and spread standards through presentations of “culture” and social structures and relationships. Very often, the images, the role of the media, reinforces the “differences” between men and women by normalizing stereotypes of gender roles in real life. This dynamic is not clear nor simple, because culture is not homogeneous or static. The increased diversity of content producers on the internet also allows schedule representations that in complex ways does it affect relations poles. Communication Speed, distribution and relatively light use, especially the “new” information and communication technology reduces the distance and time between people. This could allow victims of violence to seek information and assistance, but can also endanger survivors if used without understanding its dimensions. ICT can compromise local strategies organizations through the issues of privacy, misinterpreting and... read more

Violence against women: an EU-wide survey

In the report based on interviews with 42,000 women across the 28 Member States of the European Union (EU), it is shown that violence against women, and specifically gender-based violence that disproportionately affects women, is an extensive human rights abuse that the EU cannot afford to overlook. The role of the internet and social media: Internet service providers and social media platforms should take steps to proactively assist victims of stalking to report abuse, and should also proactively address perpetrators’ behaviour. • Twenty-three per cent of victims of stalking indicate that they had to change their email address or phone number in response to the most serious case of stalking. Rather than victims having to change their behaviour, the onus should be on internet service providers to address cases of repetitive abuse or stalking in order to protect the victim and inform the perpetrator that they cannot act with impunity, and ultimately to change the perpetrator’s behaviour. This approach was considered by Twitter in the summer of  2013 after a prominent woman campaigner in the UK received repetitive threats via Twitter; thereupon, Twitter indicated it would simplify its ‘report abuse’ function. • Harassment and stalking online – ‘cyberstalking’ – is a particular problem for young women because of their greater use of and exposure in these mediums. Where cyberstalking exists, operators of social media platforms should ensure that victims have quick and effective recourse to assistance if they are targeted by repetitive abusive behaviour. This is particularly important for young people, who may not be in a position to easily stand up to a deluge of abuse that can be in the form... read more

Male and female harassment online

In addition to the difficulty of comparing data sets of varying size and depth, however, comparing male versus female online “harassment” is problematic for many reasons. First of all, because women’s harassment is more likely to be gender-based and that has specific discriminatory harms rooted in our history. One study pointed out that the harassment targeted at men is not because they are men, as is clearly more frequently the case with women. It’s defining because a lot of harassment is an effort to put women, because they are women, back in their “place.” Second, online comparisons like this decontextualize the problem of harassment, as though a connection to what happens offline is trivial or inconsequential. Third, the binary frame camouflages the degree to which harassment of people, often men, is frequently aimed at people who defy rigid gender and sexuality rules. LGBT youth experience online bullying at three times the rate of their straight peers. For girls and women, harassment is not just about “un-pleasantries.” It’s often about men asserting dominance, silencing, and frequently, scaring and punishing them. Online harassment is a key weapon in intensified stalking, for example. Intimate partners create impersonator content online, sometimes with brutal results. Also, there’s the matter of human trafficking online. Social media is used by traffickers to sell people whose photographs they share, without their consent, often including photographs of their abuse of women as an example to others. Seventy-six percent of trafficked persons are girls and women and the Internet is now a major sales platform. In theory, these things can happen to anyone—but they don’t. They happen overwhelming to women and the... read more

Women found to be less aware of cybertreats

According to a survey conducted by Kasperky Lab and B2B International, women have been found to be less aware of cyberthreats. Only 19% of women believe they may fall victim to cybercriminals while every fourth man (25%) considers it possible. Moreover, according to the survey women generally know less about cyberthreats than men. For example, 27% of men and 38% of women are unaware of ransomware; 23% of men and 34% of women know little about mobile malware; 21% of men and 34% of women have a limited idea what an exploit is. This lack of awareness can cause a user to pay less attention to protecting themselves against cyberthreats. When they allow other people (children, friends, colleagues, etc.) to use their main device, 36% of women do nothing to protect their data because they “see no risk”. Only 28% of men behave in the same way. 75% of men and 68% of women make back-up copies. 13% of women have no security solutions on their devices, compared with 10% of men. There seems to be a connection between awareness of cyberthreats and the number of cyber-incidents faced by women and men. In the survey it appears that over a 12-month period more women than men faced malware incidents (73% vs 65%), although men were more likely to suffer financial consequences (22% vs 19%). Typically, men more often spend money on buying special programmes designed to clean the system or to protect it in the future whereas women prefer to turn to IT professionals for help. However, there are some threats that men face more often than women: for example, in... read more

Attitudes towards women gamers

If you’re a woman who plays or even just talks about video games online, odds are you’re encountered the misogynist flying monkeys of the Internet: Troops of bizarrely embittered young men, often using the name “Gamergate,” who aim inchoate rage at all sorts of women they encounter, but particularly feminists and women they suspect might be–gasp–sexually active. Ordinary women find that being known as female while playing online video games means having shocking number of sexually harassing comments thrown your way. Under the circumstances, it’s not surprising that a study that showed that men who are bad at video games are more likely to harass women online, went viral. Psychology researchers from the University of New South Wales and Miami University did a study where they compared men’s performance playing Halo 3 online to the amount of misogynist harassment they were dishing out. The result? A direct and strong correlation between how badly men were doing in the game and how nasty they were to women. Men, no matter how good they were, were cordial to each other. But the men who were good at the game were generally nice to women and men who sucked were the ones dishing out sexualized abuse to the women they... read more

How can I protect myself online

How to be safe online? Never share your password, and make sure your password is unpredictable. Do not use your footy club, your pet’s name or your birthdate! Choose a password that uses letters, numbers, lowercase, uppercase, and characters. Never use the same password for different accounts. Limit the information you share online. If you wouldn’t put it on the front page of the daily paper, don’t put it on Facebook or another social networking site. Don’t give your full name, address, or phone number to anyone online that you don’t trust or know. This is especially important in chat rooms, when negotiating jobs or deals, or making plans through meet-up sites. Be mindful when installing programs or agreeing to terms.When you sign up for newsletters, install programs, or agree to anything, read the fine print. If you do not want to receive junk mail or get put on a telemarketer list, look for a small box near the bottom of the page that asks if you want to receive information and offers from other companies. The best sites will have a statement listed that they will not sell your name to other companies (though they may still send you e-mails themselves). Make sure your computer’s security settings are updated regularly, and exercise caution when downloading from the Internet. Use an anti-virus program, an anti-spyware program, and a firewall.Surfing the internet without these things is unsafe and invites spam, hackers, and viruses onto your computer. Having these safeguards on your computers protects you from things you might not even realize are threats. Make sure to keep them updated to... read more