I haven’t read all of the data and articles yet, but I already really like The Guardian’s The Web We Want, both a series about online harassment and an experiment in making their site a safer place. I think the thing I like about it is that the Guardian isn’t tiptoeing around the subject of online abuae, but rather facing it head on and admitting that, yes, there is a problem, yes, it affects our site, and yes, the harrassment and abuse disproportionately affect women and minorities, here are our figures.
For many people, this might seem obvious (it is obvious) yet many news sites seem to tread too carefully around the subject. References to ‘trolls’ have begun to infuriate me in the past few years, it is a phrase that seems to trivialise the entire problem, especially in the eyes of anyone who doesn’t use the Internet constantly. If we portray the online baddies as dumb mythical monsters that turn to stone in sunlight rather than the actual criminals that they are, then maybe these problems wouldn’t have been swept under the rug for so long, and abuse might not have become so endemic on the Internet. The Guardian’s willingness to admit to the problem in their own house, and to point one of the major problems (while abuse can and does happen to just about everyone, just as in everyday life some groups have it worse) is, if not a sea change, then a clear breath of fresh air.