Hacking Harassment

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Has anyone said something mean, or degrading to you online? It’s happened to me, and I know I’m not alone. Countless people experience Internet harassment. It’s not something to be embarrassed about. Today, needless bullying is common online. People pass everything off as a joke, or claim an off-the-wall remark was sarcasm. It’s okay to be mean, because it’s always a joke, right? In my opinion, that’s the wrong idea.

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The right ideas on YouTube’s press event stream

Such a mindset has woven its way into gaming culture where I seldom don’t see some kind of harassment—where bullies hide and perpetrators pass ridicule off as jokes behind online identities. Why? There’s no reason for ridicule, and no warrant to be a troll. Still it happens, but trolling is bad. Furthermore, such malignant behavior definitely shouldn’t be a substantial part of the gaming industry. Bullying must STOP.

I attended a CES press conference where Intel, Vox Media, Re/code and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation partnered-up to form a new initiative to stop Internet harassment, Hack Harassment. 

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“40% of Internet users say they have personally experience online harassment” (hackharassment.com)

In a study conducted by Intel, Vox Media, Re/code and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, “eighty-four percent of technology professionals believe there is real life-risk and emotional impact being harassed online.” (Intel News Release)

“Online harassment is pervasive and can be vicious,” Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich said. “If we’re to truly succeed in a smart and connected world, we need to remember that behind every device, game, sensor or network is a real person with real feelings and real needs for safety.”

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Logan’s interview with Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich. Image by Intel’s Karen Schinzel.

Everyone has the basic human right to feel safe and respected online.

Can you tell I’m passionate about this? Here’s why. I once interned with an acting troupe, S.O.S For Youth. We traveled all over the Mid-West putting on shows that focused on teen-issues like suicide, depression, drug abuse, bullying and Internet harassment. S.O.S For Youth is based on peer-to-peer education, and it works. I spent 4 years of my life and  hundreds of hours helping kids make a difference.

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S.O.S. For Youth positively changes the lives of its actors and students (sosplayers.org)

HackHarassment works to solve the problems of Internet bullying, by getting the word out so people start to realize how bullying behaviors harm people. They will host online hackathons to generate awareness, implement accountability, and work to develop advanced anti-harassment technology solutions. Most importantly, Hack Harassment is about creating positive change.

The idea is to crowdsource help from the public to make a difference. After an S.O.S. show, we had talk-backs and breakout sessions that involved actors talking with students. This is how we made contact. They brought their problems to us, and we found help for them. The shows created a feeling to which they they could relate and use. Getting a conversation going really made a difference. Hackathons employ a similar idea.

Now, if you’re reading and feel the issue of cyber-bullying doesn’t affect you, remember we all live in a digital world. Online harassment effects everyone whether you know it or not. It can change life in a blink. It affects friends, family members and yours truly. Don’t sit by, act.

The online harassment problem is widespread and more volatile than ever before. It is an accepted norm to which we turn a blind eye. It is gamer culture.

I listen to people insult, harass and bully in the name of trolling. But what does trolling do for the world? Why do some people  tear others down just to do do it? This behavior contributes nothing, but it does infect others like the Plague. This problem matters. It makes me angry, and it should make you angry, too. It’s not something that will just go away. It won’t, if we do nothing.

Everyone needs to hack harassment. Every Internet user must work to change it, because everyone deserves to feel safe and respected online.

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There’s a difference between hate speech and free speech. (recode.net)

If you are reading this, I assume you’re online. If not, get online, stop reading this and go HackHarassment. That means everyone. Join the discussion #hackharassment.

We inhabit an ever-evolving digital world, a frontier we need to make safe in every generation.

Tune in to this week’s Geekwave Podcast where we’ll #hackharassment. You can also catch my interview with Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich.

-Ollie,  Social Activist (Takes a swig of H2O from his water bottle, and takes a nap he’s so worked up)

#HACKHARASSMENT

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