Book Review: Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online, Bailey Poland (2016)

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

“THE PERSONAL COMPUTER IS THE POLITICAL COMPUTER”

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for discussions of sexism, misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia, harassment, and death and rape threats.)

When dealing with things like cybersexist abuse, it cannot be said often enough that there is no way to solve a problem without understanding it.

[I]t is worth noting that nearly every technological advancement throughout history has been seen as too liberating for women— and therefore dangerous.

Like many women who dare to voice an opinion online, Bailey Poland has first-hand experience with cyber-harassment and abuse. She typically gets a few dozen abusive tweets every night; when she briefly became the latest target of Gamergate, that number jumped to several hundred. She monitors the Twitter profiles and Facebook pages of past harassers on the daily, looking for signs that another wave of abuse is imminent. She and her activist friends have a sort of informal arrangement, where they tip each other off to possible threats. Dealing with the daily onslaught of abuse is tedious, demoralizing, and exhausting – and that’s kind of the point, from the harasser’s perspective.

One particularly dedicated misogynist harassed Poland for over a year, periodically sending her rape and death threats via Twitter. She finally decided to file a police report – and was lucky enough to get an officer who took her concerns seriously and was reasonably knowledgeable about the internet. (Either one is rare, but both together? Like an invisible pink unicorn!) Even so, nothing came of it; the department couldn’t even be bothered to keep Poland updated on its progress. And this represents a best-case scenario: the vast majority of victims don’t even get this far.

But Poland didn’t stop there: rather, she decided to make online harassment and abuse the topic of her first book. In Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online, Poland explores the odious and often scary landscape of cybersexism. This encompasses not just the most egregious abuses: death and rape threats, doxxing and swatting, Gamergate and MRAs (and, now, the alt-right), but also more subtle forms of sexism and sexist microaggressions, such as mansplaining, talking over women, and dominating conversations. Even the very design of the internet – with its anything goes, Wild West type attitude – ignores women’s experiences and prioritizes men’s “freedom of speech” and self-expression over that of women and other marginalized groups.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: #zombie (Zombie Botnet), Al K. Line (2014)

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

The Twittering Dead

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Member Giveaway program.)

two out of five stars

“Ven hit enter and Armageddon was unleashed.”

Ven – short for ven.GEANCE, her online hacker tag; Sarah to the tax collector – just wanted to make an obscene amount of cash. And, perhaps more importantly, build the best botnet the world had ever seen. And she did. Build a virtually indestructible bot, that is. The cash? Well, as it turns out, cash is less than useless in the zombie apocalypse.

After a decade plus spent carefully nurturing and cultivating her notorious zombie bot, Ven was finally ready for the end game. Using stolen bits of psychological research, she created a virus loaded with “data packets” of information – images, text, and videos, all transmitted from device to user quickly enough to elude conscious awareness – designed to manipulate internet users into opening a Bitcoin account…which Ven would then hijack and drain of funds. (Bitcoin? Really?) The plan was flawless, or so she though. Then she hit enter and accidentally unleashed Armageddon.

As you might have already guessed, those exposed to Ven’s subliminal mind manipulation didn’t open Bitcoin accounts. Instead, they either became hopelessly locked onto their machines, unable to look away from the devolving gibberish that flashed across the screen (Zombies love to tweet and take selfies, dontchaknow.), while those who failed to maintain steady eye contact went on a murderous rampage. They became zombies of a sort, although it remains a matter of some debate whether they died and were resurrected, or are still alive (and thus potentially curable). Either way, they want brains. In the absence of such, any other body part will do.

(More below the fold…)

easyVegan Link Sanctuary, 09-08-07

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

Action Alerts

Defenders of Wildlife: Don’t Let Great Cats & Rare Canines Vanish Forever
Tell Congress to do its part — and join in the effort to protect these creatures world-wide.

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF): Stop the Spying!
Tell the government to stop surveillance of Americans’ communications without a warrant.

People for the American Way (PFAW): Tell Congress: End Warrantless Spying on Americans!
Tell your members of Congress how you feel about the Bush administration’s warrantless spying on Americans.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA): ‘Bambi Butchers’ Horror
On August 26, 2007, a PETA investigator filmed the slaughter of deer at Musicon, Inc., a deer farm and venison sales company in Goshen, New York.

Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS): Urge Congress to Hold Strong on a Clean Energy Bill!
Please tell your senators and representative that America’s new Energy Bill must include a 35 mile per gallon fuel economy standard AND a 15 percent renewable electricity standard.

(More below the fold…)

easyVegan Link Dump Sanctuary, 08-08-07

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

Action Alerts

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): TELL CONGRESS: DON’T FAIL FREEDOM
Stand with the ACLU and demand that Congress live up to its promise to protect and defend the Constitution, starting with immediate fixes to the outrageous FISA legislation that made warrantless NSA spying on Americans legal.

DawnWatch: NPR commentary on dog fighting and canned hunting 8/8/07
“National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, Wednesday, August 8, 2007, aired a piece by commentator Frank Deford on dog fighting and on various forms of hunting”

DawnWatch: Wall St Journal front page on pig castration 7/6/07
“These Little Pigs Get Special Care From Norwegians But Meat People Squeal, And a Lot of Other Folks Are Holding Their Noses”

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF): Pull Congress Back Into the Wiretapping Fight to Restore Your Rights
Tell your representatives to repeal this legislation and restore your rights now.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): Urge Congress to clean up our beaches
Your senators and representatives have the opportunity to help clean up contaminated beaches and to make sure sources of beach pollution are identified and addressed.

(More below the fold…)

EFF: Improve the Freedom of Information Act!

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

UPDATE, 7/20/07:

See also: Protecting the Public’s Right to Know, Strengthening the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), from the ACLU:

Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) has placed a not-so-secret hold on bipartisan legislation that would strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the public’s right to know. The OPEN Government Act (S. 849) would, among other things, provide FOIA requesters a tracking number enabling them to follow the status of their request and impose reasonable consequences on federal agencies that missed deadlines for complying with FOIA.

The bill, sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee. And the House of Representatives recently passed similar legislation by an overwhelming bipartisan vote. Senator Kyl’s hold is now the only thing stopping this bill’s passage.

Please contact your Senators and urge them to pressure Senator Kyl and the Senate Republican leadership to take his hold off this popular bipartisan bill.

—————————-

The following is an excerpt from the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s latest newsletter:

An Independence Day Resolution: Reform FOIA!

On July 4, 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed the FOIA into law. FOIA gave weight to a principle that is fundamental to any democracy: the right of the people to know what the government is doing. Forty-one years later, FOIA remains an essential tool used by the public, public advocacy groups (including EFF), and news organizations to uncover information that would otherwise remain hidden from public view.

But a recent report from the George Washington University’s National Security Archive and the Knight Foundation shows that FOIA is far from a perfect tool of transparency in government. The study found that requests for information often languish in bureaucratic limbo for years — the oldest dates back to 1987! The National Security Archive actually had to use FOIA to find out how many FOIA requests were still pending.

Luckily, a new bill to reform FOIA is working its way through Congress, supported by a broad coalition of organizations that spans the political spectrum. The OPEN Government Act (S. 849) brings much needed reform to FOIA and puts in place incentives for federal agencies to process FOIA requests in a timely fashion. The bill would create a tracking system for FOIA requests so that they don’t get lost in the bowels of federal agencies, as well as allowing requesters who prevail in FOIA litigation to recover reasonable attorney fees.

Meanwhile, EFF’s FOIA lawsuits are making steady strides. Along with uncovering information about National Security Letters, we’ve filed suit seeking orders, rules and guidelines issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court about the Administration’s warrantless surveillance program. There will be a hearing in the case on July 26 in Washington, DC.

Take action to support the OPEN Government Act: http://action.eff.org/site/Advocacy?id=285

For this post and related links: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/005346.php

—————————-

Tagged:

EFF: Improve the Freedom of Information Act!

Monday, April 16th, 2007

Via the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

EFF-logo-text.gif

Improve the Freedom of Information Act!

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) helps protect the public’s right to know, and new legislation would provide some much-needed updates to this crucial law. One open government bill has already passed the House — make sure a similar one passes in the Senate by writing to your representatives now.

H.R. 1309 and S. 849 [PDF] give federal agencies, like the FBI and the FCC, greater incentive to follow the law and make it easier for all FOIA requesters to access government documents. Among other reforms, the bills will help government watchdogs keep track of FOIA requests they’ve sent and ensure that more journalist requesters get preferred treatment under the law. The bills will also penalize agencies that don’t respond to requests within the time limits set by the FOIA.

Because veg*ns and eco-activists ♥ information, too.

Click here to learn more and take action.

————————-

Tagged: