Another Week, Another Woman Harassed Into Leaving
Over the weekend I found out yet another awesome geek lady of G+ has abandoned the site due to overwhelming sexual harassment.
Rory Triscuit (https://profiles.google.com/100979357612465960518/about
) is gone and told mutual friends that she left because of being sick of the sexual harassment she faces here every day. I don't know what specific event was her last straw, but she's deleted her posts and all that remains is her about page with its bolded appeal to not hit on her. But creepers don't read about pages or heed warnings, do they?
Last week I posted about a woman who was getting rape threats from a troll she'd snarked back on, and how G+ staff actually told her she shouldn't have engaged the troll to begin with and just block him, completely ignoring the fact that the dude had been blocked already and was now harassing from a secondary account.
Because blocking does not work
. Not only is there nothing stopping the jerk from making more and more accounts, but it also does nothing to help the next victim, and the next, and the next. And short of screencapping and then sharing amongst your friends, along with the profile link of the perpetrator, there's no real easy way to spread the word to everyone you care about that this person is a problem.
So, G+, what are you going to do about this? Because the typical excuses are getting really, really old. It's getting very hard not to see the top sphere as a mostly-boys' club that doesn't care. I happen to know personally that at least one of those top dudes does care very much, but it's going to take a lot more than that one dude wishing he could do more.
Let's talk about suggestions:1) Better Blocking
If G+ is going to stick to the "just block them" paradigm, at least make blocking useful. Here are a handful of ways blocking could be better for clamping down on repeat offenders:
- Make blocking faster and more intuitive. Right now, if I see harassment in my friend's post, it appears to be a catch-all report of "Spam or Abuse". Only if you hover over it after
the report does it give you a choice for more details, including the ability to block. People miss that all the time. The previous method of having a dialogue pop up was better.
- Make blocking easier. Right now, you can unblock from a hovercard but not block from one. Sometimes you see a bunch of people posting crap you know will be ignored if reported (ie vague neo-Nazi nonsense that isn't specifically abusive but indicative of people you don't want in your posts) and you want to go down the list and block the lot of 'em without reporting each comment. You then have to go to each person's profile, let it load fully (which takes a ridiculous amount of time), treat yourself to the often nasty visuals they have in their profile display and posts, and then block. Oh, and then you have to wait some more, because if you close the tab before the button has gone from red to grey, they aren't blocked
. This is nonsense. We should be able to block from the hovercard in the first place, especially since we can unblock from it.
- Make blocking easier to share. When I block someone - particularly a sexual harasser - I want to be able to automatically let my friends or possibly even the public know, in a way that demonstrates the problem and lets them quickly block as well. Perhaps when I click to flag and then subsequently do the second part (which, as above, should not require a counter-intuitive re-hover) there could be an option to Share. Then that option could copy the text of the flagged comment to a post in a way that I can't tamper with so folks know this was what was actually posted, also paste in a direct-block link (ie a more functional hovercard) of the offender, and I could share that like a normal post to whomever I wished, but with the added security of not notifying the blocked person.
Further, it would be really nice to somehow keep a non-circled list of blockees for sharing, or multiples, perhaps by type. That way we could share lists amongst friends that they could auto-adopt like a shared circle.
This attitude that blocking is "mean" or "censorship" or "a witch hunt" has got to go, especially if G+ is also going to have staff tell people who are receiving actual rape threats in a potentially criminally chargeable way
to "just block". We should, as microcommunities within G+, be able to choose to shun en masse as desired.
Oh, and all of this should work as effectively on mobile as on desktop.2) More Effective Reporting That Actually Does Something
As mentioned above, right now it's unintuitive that you have to hover over something once you've reported it to be able to report further. And even if you do, you can't effectively report harassment against other people. It just gives you a brush-off message and if that report goes anywhere from that point, it's not clear.
Many of us who hone in on truly egregious posters - like those posting child pornography - have noticed that enough reports does get G+'s attention and those pages get removed fast. That's awesome. But why isn't it the same for perpetual harassers? How many reports of harassment does it take for a profile to be deleted? And are IP addresses ever blocked or is it just easy for all of these creeps to just make a new account repeatedly?
There needs to be a more open, obvious, and clear policy about these things. If you want us to trust you, G+, you need to trust us enough to tell us how it works and not hide behind proprietary screens.3) Better Training for Staff, Both in Public and in Back
Many of us are still reeling in shock at seeing a staffer tell someone being threatened with rape
that she shouldn't have engaged with the troll and should have just blocked. That victim-blaming crap ought to be Red Flag Number One that you need more training in your offices on how to deal with sexual harassment issues.
But it's not just that once incidence: I've personally seen too many women try to report sustained harassment and be given brush-offs, be told something along the lines of, "Sorry, our policy doesn't let me do anything about this," or worse, cast the victim as the problem and threaten her with being removed. I've seen multiple women who have been put through the ringer for trying to report fake profiles of them made by stalking exes who post intimate photos, or even just post as them in generally embarrassing, trouble-making ways. Some of them just leave, others soldier on knowing there's nothing to be done.
Further, going to private-only posts should not ever be a suggestion. That's akin to telling women if we don't want to be sexually harassed on a public street, we should lock ourselves inside. Too much of the attitude around here puts the onus on victims to change the system, when the onus should be on G+ to deal with perpetrators.
Perhaps G+ should be hiring some kind of anti-sexual-harassment company to come in and educate the staff - from ground level up to executive - on how to more effectively deal with reports. Because right now, it honestly looks like at best you don't care, and at worst, you're blaming victims.4) Profile Photos Should Be Lockable
Just today it was revealed by some friends who otherwise control their photos that profile photos are shareable. That's crazy. Profile photos should have the same security options as any other photo posted. It's actually a disturbingly common method of sexual harassment that's been around since the early days of G+: the creepers seem to pass around a hot profile photo and then flock to the woman to drive her crazy.5) Generally Improved User Controls
There are several ways many of us have been begging for for ages to better control accounts to reduce the incidences of trolling/harassment, and we feel like nobody's listening.
- Turn of +1 notifications. Right now harassers can "plusfuck" you and there's not even a way to report that as harassment.
- Comment Karma. We really need some kind of system that lets those who wish it set a higher threshold before uncircled users can comment on their posts. It's not good enough to just lock comments to circles because that prevents decent new folks from entering discussions. Many, many versions of this have been suggested for the last couple of years. G+ needs to implement something
- Ghost blocking, temporary bans, etc. Many people are asking for the ability to shut someone up in a troublesome thread without having to enact a total block ban. There should be degrees of control here.
- Hangout invites need to be locked down. Right now you can only set it that people can notify you first or not. Many people don't want most people they interact with online to be able to beg for hangouts constantly. We should be able to control that better than just shutting the entire toolbar off. It's an easy vehicle for harassment right now and needs to stop.
- Ability to stop community invites from people not in circles. We women get invited to an ungodly number of porny communities on a regular basis. Ew. Let us stop this in advance, please! Plus everyone else wants this setting too for the other bazillion community invites spammer send daily.
- Ability to set posts to Comments Disabled before
clicking the share button. Sometimes people have good reasons for not allowing comments, and it's silly that they have to make the post and then go to the pull-down to disable comments. In the time it takes to do that, a comment or two often comes through.
- Ability to mark posts as not eligible for What's Hot, and/or an indicator on the post when it's gone to WH. WH is a magnet for abuse, especially on women's issues. I've received more rape threats and associated abuse from my feminist posts hitting WH than all other harassment put together. High profile women who frequently have posts hit WH pretty much know that every time they post, they're going to get a ton of crap thrown at them. And this problem isn't limited to sexual harassment of women: any
post hitting WH gets filled with stupidity. Let us choose as we post to not allow this to happen, and give us the Comment Karma settings to minimize it if it does!
These are just the suggestions I could remember in between doing dishes tonight and before I need to go bathe the baby. I'm a busy mom who shouldn't have to be telling one of the world's biggest corporations with a motto of "Don't be evil"
how to curtail sexual harassment on their social media platform. I shouldn't have to watch friend after friend bail or go to private-only because the problem is so disgustingly huge. I shouldn't have to see thread after thread descend into chaos because some women can't post anything
without being hit on.Google exists as an aggregator of data. There's no excuse for why you can predict my search terms with disturbing accuracy but can't figure out that someone posting constant sexual harassment needs to go.Do something. For pity's sake, do anything. Stop ignoring us.