Shortly after the death of Batley and Spen’s MP, Jo Cox, I wrote an article noting female colleagues in the Houses of Parliament are suffering online threats, many of which are deeply offensive with sexual undertones. I observed there is a particular kind of person that hates women in authority; this prejudice is not confined to men.
Misogynistic online bullying is not, of course, confined to Members of Parliament. Many women in the public eye, from historian Mary Beard to Caroline Criado Perez, who campaigned for Jane Austen to be on a banknote, to school children have been affected. Bullying of any kind, whether online or offline, is absolutely unacceptable and I completely agree with the Minister for Women and Equalities that there is absolutely no place for misogyny or trolling in our society.
I welcome therefore that the Government has set up the Stop Online Abuse website that offers practical advice, with a focus on LGB&T people, including on social media. This excellent new resource also gives information on how to complain about sexism and bullying on websites, social media sites and in the press and advertising.
It is also important to educate young people against this sort of bullying in the first place, to ensure they are robust and resilient if they come across unwanted images or cyberbullying. A range of websites help children and their parents discuss these issues, and the Government has invested £3.85 million in a second phase of the ‘This is Abuse’ campaign called Disrespect Nobody, which challenges young people to rethink their views on abuse and consent in relationships.
What is illegal offline is illegal online. I welcome recent developments, such as a Twitter director saying he thought the company was doing better on dealing with trolls, but I was glad that the site also recognises more must be done.
Eric Pickles is a British Conservative Party politician and Member of Parliament for Brentwood and Ongar.
Cyber-stalking or just plain talking?: Investigating the linguistic properties of rape-threat messages as compulsive behaviours
Mark Beech and Jonathan Bishop
Rape call-out trolling, more commonly known as ‘rape-threat trolling,’ occurs when a person using a communication network sends a message relating to them ‘raping’ that person. Whilst this may disgust many people, this chapter finds that not all instances of rape call-out trolling is done to cause a person apprehension. The chapter finds that many Twitter users make rape threats to their friends in an affectionate way, and so appreciating the context of rape-threat messages is essential. The most notable targets of rape call-out trolling, Caroline Criado-Perez and Stella Creasy, were targeted following calling for less men to appear on British banknotes. These two findings have implications for public policy makers who are quite happy to see people go to jail for posting rape-threats when they were drunk, namely Isabella Sorley. The chapter concludes the context around rape-threat postings needs more consideration to determine what the core meanings are.
Mark Beech and Jonathan Bishop (2015). Cyber-stalking or just plain talking?: Linguistic properties of rape-threat messages reflect underlying compulsive behaviours. In: Jonathan Bishop (Ed.) Psychological and Social Issues Surrounding Internet and Gaming Addiction. IGI Global: Hershey, PA. Available online at: http://resources.crocels.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/cyber-stalking-or-just-plain-talking-investigating-the-linguistic-priperities-of-rape-threat-messages-as-compulsive-behavours.pdf
‘U r Bias Love:’ Using ‘bleasure’ and ‘motif’ as forensic linguistic means to annotate Twitter and newsblog comments for the purpose of multimedia forensics
The mass adoption of social media has brought with it the most undesirable aspects of human nature, namely the need to abuse one’s fellow kind for sometimes difficult to understand reasons. There has been severe pressure on law enforcement agencies to respond to this Internet abuse, commonly called Internet trolling. Equally, there has been demands made of social media companies to better police the content on their platforms. There is also the option of civil action for those who have been targeted by the ‘trolls’ who post the abusive comments. This paper suggests understanding UK case law in relation to Internet trolling and cyber-harassment should be done through the prism of the French legal concepts of bleasure (i.e. blessure) and motif. The paper provides a framework for those involved in multimedia forensics to abstract information from identified abusive content (i.e. motifs) to determine whether it would be reasonable to say that such messages harmed a person (i.e. caused a bleasure). Using a corpus linguistics approach, the paper identifies abusive posts made against prominent women public figures on Twitter and newsblogs in the last three years, namely Sally Bercow, Caroline Criado-Perez, Esther McVay and Salma Yaqoob. The paper finds that it is possible to systematically abstract data from social media platforms that both show that an offence has happened (i.e. actus reus, motif), that a person has been harmed (i.e. malum reus, bleasure), and whether it has occurred, or is likely to occur, over a longer period of time (i.e. pertinax reus). This can be done using ‘interface cues’ in the form of authority cues and bandwagon cues, which need to rely on an effective corpus of key terms to be useful.
Jonathan Bishop (2014). ‘U r Bias Love:’ using ‘bleasure’ and ‘motif’ as forensic linguistic means to annotate Twitter and newsblog comments for the purpose of multimedia forensics. The 11th International Conference on Web Based Communities and Social Media 2014, Lisbon, Portugal, 17–19 July 2014. Available online at: http://resources.crocels.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/ur-bias-love-using-bleasure-and-motif-as-forensic-linguistic-means-to-annotate-twitter-and-newsblog-comments-for-the-purpose-of-multimedia-forensics.pdf
The killing of teacher Ann Maguire at Corpus Christi Catholic college in Leeds has been met with strong reaction on Twitter.
Twitter has been full of condolences for Mrs Maguire, the teacher killed by what police to be a 15-year-old boy. Among the sympathies, however, has been some strong language against the alleged murderer of Maguire.
A Twitter user by the name of Kelly (@x__kelly__) tweeted: “Name and shame the little b*****d .. Man enough to Carry a knife, man enough to face punishment #annemaguire” (profanity removed). Another user, Tristan Bath, was offended by the opportunism of those using the situation for their own ends. “How dare this f****g Christian c**t on #thoughtfortheday compare Anne (sic) Maguire’s killing to Christ’s crucifixion,” he said (profanity removed).
Other opportunists took the chance to further their own agenda as well. Caroline Criado-Perez, a feminist who called for more women on bank notes at the expense of men, took the chance to retweet misandrist posts. “Refusing to see the stabbing of Anne (sic) Maguire in the context of male violence against women is a political act,” was the content of one. “Anne (sic) Maguire is at least the 50th UK woman killed thro’ male violence THIS YEAR & 21st 2B stabbed to death, so stop with ‘isolated incident‘” was the content of another.
DS Simon Beldon spoke on behalf of West Yorkshire police. “Given his young age, this is a process which needs to be handled very sensitively, and may take some time to complete,” he said.
YouTube if you want to – The lady’s not for blogging: Using ‘bleasures’ and ‘motifs’ to support multimedia forensic analyses of harassment by social media
The year 2013 will be known in the Internet trolling community as the one where the dark sides of the phenomena were most present. Public figures like Caroline Criado-Perez were targeted with some of the most abusive comments, including threats of rape, many which might have seemed credible at the time. This presentation looks through some of the posts on Twitter and YouTube to find out why such verminous attacks were made. Though using the French legal concepts of Bleasure and Motif as part of a multimedia forensics approach the talk concludes that the most passionate and vile forms of Internet trolling arise out of a contempt trolls have for bias and hypocrisy. Caroline Criado-Perez was abused because she was a woman calling for more women on banknotes and therefore less men. Had she been a Black person calling for more Black people on banknotes she would have received racist comments and not sexist ones – probably from the same people. By looking at other women, namely Salma Yaqoob, Sally Bercow and Esther McVey, the talk concludes that the best way to not be trolled is to advocate rights for a group one does not belong to. It equally concludes that the concepts of Bleasure and Motif can be helping in providing evidence of trolling and the effect it has on others.
Jonathan Bishop (2014). YouTube if you want to – The lady’s not for blogging: Using ‘bleasures’ and ‘motifs’ to support multimedia forensic analyses of harassment by social media. Presentation to the Oxford Cyber Harassment Symposium. 27-28 March 2014. St Edmund’s Hall, Oxford University. Available online at: http://resources.crocels.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/youtube-if-you-want-to-the-ladys-not-for-blogging.pdf