Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
PaperSession-27: Cyberthreats and Harassment
Friday, 20/Oct/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Kate Miltner
Location: Dorpat - Pirogov
Soola 6, Tartu 51013, Estonia

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“Meanwhile I’m over here butt naked on CNN”: A multiplatform discourse analysis of the Leslie Jones hack

Caitlin Lawson

University of Michigan, United States of America

On August 24, 2016, comedienne Leslie Jones's personal website was hacked and flooded with sexist and racist imagery stolen largely from her personal accounts. This attack came on the heels of months of online abuse from trolls on Twitter, most recently lead by Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. Through a multiplatform discourse analysis of the Leslie Jones hack, this paper examines the connections between platform vulnerabilities and the vulnerabilities of women, as well as the links between the rise of the alt-right and the mainstreaming of racist, misogynistic trolling behaviors. Building on Whitney Phillips’s (2015) arguments about the connections between trolling and mainstream culture, this case study maps a moment when these subcultural behaviors were becoming more dominant and provides a microcosm through which to understand the interconnectedness between digital platforms, politics and Politics, race, and gender. Utilizing a qualitative interpretation of Jean Burgess and Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández’s (2016) multiplatform issue mapping, three key themes emerged: messages of support and affirmation; the need for intervention; and the connection between this incident, systemic racism and sexism, and the rise of the alt-right. Overall, the discourse around Leslie Jones’s hack evinces the mainstreaming of both policy discourse around online harassment and the supposedly subcultural trolling culture that frequently aligns with the alt-right. While other instances of online harassment have garnered significant media attention, the hatred toward Jones surfaced at a cultural and political tipping point, speaking to larger political divides within the United States.

Privacy as a right to be in public places without fear of digital harassment: A gendered tale from South Korea

Yenn Lee

SOAS University of London, United Kingdom

South Korean women have long been fighting gender-based discrimination and violence, but their efforts have recently gained an unprecedented level of visibility. A new type of movement was triggered in 2015 by a group of female online users, calling themselves Megalians, who put forward gender-flipped and vulgar satires in social media. While their tactic of employing exactly the same offensive language that had traditionally been used against women was lauded as effective and even cathartic by supporters, the neologism Megalians soon became another pejorative label for anyone advocating for women's rights and replaced the existing ones such as 'feminazis' and 'kimchi bitches'.

This paper presents a two-year ethnographic study of this technologically mediated and heightened tension since Megalians came into the picture. A theme that runs across the findings is the gendered conceptualisation of privacy in Korean society. When men fall subject to cyber shaming, for example, social media platform operators and the law enforcement act swiftly to protect the privacy of the targeted individuals. However, women are continuously left vulnerable to voyeurism, doxxing, and other forms of digital harassment, especially as retaliation for supporting feminist causes.

#IAmNotAfraidToSayIt: Stories of Sexual Violence as Everyday Political Speech on Facebook

Tetyana Lokot

Dublin City University, Ireland

The debate about the power and influence of networked publics often focuses on large-scale political events, activist campaigns and protest activity – the more visible forms of political engagement. On the other hand, digitally mediated activism is often questioned and sometimes derided as a lesser form of dissent, as it is easier to engage in, highly affective, and offers few assurances of sustainability of the change it calls for. But what about everyday political speech online, where social media platforms can contribute to a personalisation of politics? Can social media users express their views online and make a difference? This paper is an analysis of over 3,500 Facebook posts and a collection of other texts stemming from the ‪#‎ЯНеБоюсьСказати‬ (Ukrainian for #IAmNotAfraidToSayIt) online campaign that was started in the Ukrainian segment of Facebook in July 2016 by a local activist to raise awareness of how widespread sexual violence and sexual harassment are in the Ukrainian society. The paper argues that networked conversations about everyday rights and affective stories about shared experiences of injustice, underpinned by the affordances of social media platforms for sharing and discussing information and participating in everyday politics, can emerge as viable forms of networked activism and can have real impact on the status quo of an issue, both in the digital sphere and beyond it.

History Repeats: Women & Games, Patterns & Links

Jennifer Jenson1, Suzanne de Castell2

1York University, Canada; 2Simon Fraser University, Canada

This paper reports the findings of a survey on diversity in the games industry that immediately preceded the eruption of the “gamergate” wars, then contextualizes contemporary ‘women and games’ debates within a more expansive historical analysis of gendered inequality. Its purpose is to retrieve and recuperate feminist strategies and tactics that risk being overlooked or forgotten as public interest in the gamergate phenomenon wanes, leaving in its wake a reductive and misdirected understanding of both the problem and its possible solutions.

In the paper, we pursue and connect two lines of inquiry. First, we report on a survey conducted in late 2013 (n=429) that asked people working in games about their work places, their perceptions of diversity and equity in those places, and whether and how they had been harassed or had seen others harassed while playing and/or making games. Second, we revive and revisit an historical repository of memories of harassment, misogyny, and verbal and other violence that has existed well prior to gamergate. Our purpose in so doing is to impede dramatic high-profile “flame wars” like gamergate from eclipsing what is a longer, deeper and more significant problem, obscuring its socio-historical patterns and connections and obscuring, thereby, potentially more productive approaches to its remediation.

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