Internet

How the United Nations and Arthur Chu Threaten Free Speech

The U.N. has no idea how to combat cyberbullying.

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UN
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The United Nations is suddenly very interested in doing something about cyber-bullying and online harassment against women, and here's the document to prove it: Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls—A Worldwide Wake-up Call.

The report is riddled with errors, incomplete sentences, and bad hyperlinks. And then there's the small matter of its actual content.

This "wake-up call" does identify a real problem: it's true that women—including the women the U.N. enlisted to highlight this report: Gamergate foes Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn—face a lot of nastiness (doxing, harassment, threats, etc.) on the internet. But the report links this problem with a host of other social ills—like sex-trafficking and porn consumption—and in doing so, quickly loses all sense of what harassment actually is and how it should be addressed.

Take the document's fact-free approach to pornography, which it casually associates with violence against women:

Furthermore, studies show that after viewing pornography men are more likely to: report decreased empathy for rape victims; have increasingly aggressive behavioral tendencies; report believing that a woman who dresses provocatively deserves to be raped; report anger at women who flirt but then refuse to have sex; report decreased sexual interest in their girlfriends or wives; report increased interest in coercing partners into unwanted sex acts. Boys aged 12- 17 are the largest consumer group of Internet porn. This suggests that the first images and information surrounding sex that a young boy is exposed to would include violence towards a woman.

Really? All pornography constitutes violence against women? Never mind that a recent study found higher rates of pro-feminist views among men who watch porn. As Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown wrote:

"Taken together, the results of this study fail to support the view that pornography is an efficient deliverer of 'women-hating ideology,'" study authors concluded. "While unexpected from the perspective of radical feminist theory, these results are consistent with a small number of empirical studies that have also reported positive associations between pornography use and egalitarian attitudes."

Researchers relied on data collected between 1975 and 2010 for the General Social Survey, which asks Americans about a wide range of social issues and personal views (including gender equality and personal pornography consumption). For both men and women, viewing porn was associated with more positive attitudes toward women holding positions of power, less negative views of abortion, and less negative attitudes toward women in the workplace.

Brown has also written a cover story for the latest edition of Reason that debunks some of the statistics supporting the current moral panic over sex trafficking in the U.S.

The decision to lump porn and sex trafficking together with online harassment strips the report of focus and produces quite the muddled call to action. Criticizing this approach, New York Magazine's Jesse Singal ably spells out the problem:

Think about the very different ways one would go about tackling these problems. Cyberbullying is primarily an issue for parents and teachers and targeted attempts to change social norms. Anti-sex-trafficking work, at the level discussed in the report, is the realm of INTERPOL and similar organizations, of breaking up really evil criminal organizations. Stalking needs to be taken seriously by local law enforcement. Pile-on harassment delivered via Twitter or other social-media platforms that doesn't rise to the level of actionable threats or intimidation — and this is a pretty significant slice of the harassment pie — has to be dealt with by the platforms themselves in a way that balances free-speech concerns.

If the goal is to actually change people's behaviors so as to reduce the prevalence of these problems, a tailored approach is required. The report nods to this fact here and there, but overall it embraces the view that all of these issues are united by the gender identity of the victim, that they're all just different forms of the same thing: cyber VAWG. "Care needs to be taken not to stereotype or place disproportionate importance on one form of violence over another," the report notes shortly before its conclusion. "Instead, the response to online offences against girls and women should be seen as part of the broader movement against sexual exploitation and abuse of any kind."

But is this true? Obviously, if you're talking about sex-trafficking networks facilitated by the internet, or shocking rape threats, then these issues are part of the "broader movement against sexual exploitation and abuse of any kinds." But is cyberbullying that's pegged to a dispute between two teen girls? Is nonviolent Twitter harassment sparked by a controversial op-ed written by a woman? Many of these issues just don't seem to have the inherent, intimate connection to gendered violence and exploitation that's suggested by the U.N.'s report. They're important issues, but they're different ones, and they need to be dealt with on their own terms.

To the extent the report articulates any sort of strategy to combat online harassment of women, it seems to suggest that governments should pass more laws against cyberbullying—and enforce existing laws more stridently—to the likely detriment of free speech. This is a strategy that everyone, including advocates for a more civil internet, should oppose on free speech grounds. Wherever and whenever online harassment crosses the line into illegal threatening speech, it should be policed by law enforcement. But social media sites like Twitter and Facebook should not be required to protect users from harassment. If users want these sites to operate differently, they are welcome to apply public pressure, but no government—least of all the U.N.—should wade into the fray.

For a more direct, explicit call for government-backed censorship, I turn to the reliable Arthur Chu, who called the U.N. report "slipshod and poorly-thought-out," in a recent column for Tech Crunch. Chu has a bolder idea: eliminate Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects computer platforms from being sued when users make illegal statements about other people. Twitter, for instance, cannot be sued if one person wrongly asserts in a tweet that another person is a child molester—that person can be sued for libel, but Twitter itself is safe.

Chu thinks Section 230 is a shield that enables harassment. A summary of his argument:

It can't go on like this. The EFF, an organization I generally respect, put forward a spirited defense of Section 230 in 2012, saying that without Section 230 those wonderful viral-growth services like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube couldn't exist in their current form. It goes on to argue that individual bloggers are protected by Section 230 from liability for their comments sections.

It ignores that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are excellent tools for stalking, harassment, defamation and all manner of harm, that lives have been lost, careers destroyed, money thrown down the drain because of unaccountable users using unaccountable platforms. It ignores that the whole unquestioned "tradition" of the unmoderated comments section has led to a tradition of trolling, vitriol and lies that make the Internet a worse place and make bloggers who host them worse off. …

The year is 2015, and for over a decade now things have been going from bad to worse. How much worse do they have to get before we act?

Mr. Obama: Tear down this shield.

Popehat's Ken White destroys this argument in a rebuttal well worth a full read:

Arthur Chu seems to think that removing Section 230 will help end online harassment, because forums and sites and blogs will take down nasty things said about people he supports. Maybe. But does Arthur think that harassers won't just as quickly use this new tool he's kindly given them? Does Arthur have a blog? If he does, folks can use anonymous proxies to post mean and nasty criticism on that blog against, say, me — and then I can rush in and sue Arthur. "But I didn't post it! It wasn't up that long! How could I know it was false? It's not really actionable harassment, is it?" Great arguments Arthur. You've got a real shot with those at the summary judgment hearing 18 months and $150,000 from now. Do you really think, Arthur, that the scumbags who threaten and harass and abuse and SWATT people will scruple for a moment about abusing your new less restrictive legal system to harass women and minorities for their online expression? Then you're a damned fool.

What's the result? Web platforms that take down content the minute anyone demands it. The death of any platforms discussing inherently controversial and anger-provoking things. And do you think people abuse complaint systems to shut up their enemies now? Just you wait.

And the flood of lawsuits! Oh, the lawsuits. See, lawsuits are about leveraging the expense and brokenness of the system to shake money out of people. Even if you figure out who HurrHurrFeminitzSuck on Twitter is, he's probably a dude living out of a storage locker. No money to be gained suing him, especially if his comment is close to the line between defamation and non-defamation. But if you can sue Twitter, too, when he talks? Deep pockets ahoy. Now it makes sense to sue, because even if you have a shitty case on the merits, Twitter may settle for a few thousand bucks to avoid the cost of protracted litigation. There are lots of idle lawyers out there, friend. Do you have a house? If so, you better not have comments on your blog.

It's worth discussing strategies to decrease online harassment, and if users want a less toxic internet, social media sites should comply. The government should not be invited to that conversation.

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  1. studies show that after viewing pornography men are more likely to: report decreased empathy for rape victims; have increasingly aggressive behavioral tendencies; report believing that a woman who dresses provocatively deserves to be raped; report anger at women who flirt but then refuse to have sex; report decreased sexual interest in their girlfriends or wives; report increased interest in coercing partners into unwanted sex acts.

    Men are also more likely to report that stuff after viewing football or autumn leaves.

    1. I think a study needs to be done about men viewing live naked women and sex acts. Both for its own sake and to determine if we need to ban women altogether.

  2. This “wake-up call” does identify a real problem: it’s true that women?including the women the U.N. enlisted to highlight this report: Gamergate foes Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn?face a lot of nastiness (doxing, harassment, threats, etc.) on the internet.

    Oh no, they face nastiness of the kind they never, ever engage in! My word, how hard is it for them and their Patreon accounts? My god, I haven’t seen such bravery at the UN since Yasser Arafat!

    Oh, and everyone who wondered why people got het up about GamerGate, observe the other side. And yes, this UN report will do more to shit up an average’s person’s life than everything Sargon of Akkad or TheRalph ever said or did put together.

  3. It’s always about getting the power, and never about the actual efficacy of the proposals.

  4. The UN is only a threat to free speech to the extent that Congress takes their suggestions seriously.

    1. Or regulatory and/or law enforcement agencies. I don’t remember ‘affirmative consent’ being voted on by Congress, but that didn’t stop DoE, etc.

    2. Or regulatory and/or law enforcement agencies. I don’t remember ‘affirmative consent’ being voted on by Congress, but that didn’t stop DoE, etc.

  5. Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls?A Worldwide Wake-up Call.

    And the Sauds are now running the Human Rights Council.

    So the solution is to ban females and transgendered from the internet. For their safety.

  6. This “wake-up call” does identify a real problem:

    Not unless your definition of “real problem” requiring an institutional response by any government or supragovernmental organization is hopelessly corrupted.

    I keep banging this drum: Do Not Grant the Premises of these neo-authoritarian crypto-marxist “social justice” assholes. Just don’t do it, unless by pure chance they actually stumble onto legitimate problems.

    1. Just don’t do it, unless by pure chance they actually stumble onto legitimate problems.

      Even then you’re usually giving them credit for stumbling onto a legitimate social issue that everybody is standing around going, “Somebody really ought to do something about this!” and nobody actually is.

  7. The report is riddled with errors, incomplete sentences, and bad hyperlinks.

    So it was drafted by the Reason staff?

      1. Stressing the incomplete sentences and bad hyperlinks, of course. All in good fun!

  8. You had me at “UN report.” So I knew the report sucked. Everything after that simply simply filled in the details of the suckiness.

  9. Arthur Chu said something stupid? This is not my shocked face, because I’m not shocked.

  10. Good job, Ken. //

    Establish a segregated internet. Create a “female friendly” label and correspoding law that has as repressive standards as you like. Let all online offerings adopt or refuse that label/standard. I’ve had enough of these people who want to force association and then want to impose their own standards. Let’s see how their label does on the market.

    1. Not hardly enough. There would have to be areas for every possible victim group. Besides, allowing “hate” anywhere needs to be illegal. There can be no objections to millions more Muslims in Germany! See my post below.

      1. Simple enough. Create a Politically Correct label. After all, each such group is bound by PC precepts. It’d be very interesting to see how a large-scale, closed PC system turns out.

    2. They already have it, essentially. They can stick to websites that are moderated in ways that they approve of. They can stick to Jezebel, Feministing, etc. They can make a private Facebook group and just talk among themselves with no mean people saying mean things to them.

      Come to think of it, a lot of “problems” that progressives whine about already have solutions right in front of them. Don’t like GMOs? Don’t buy them. Angry about “income inequality”? Start a private charity and you can administer welfare as you please.

      1. “…Angry about “income inequality”? Start a private charity and you can administer welfare as you please.”

        Or quit making money and be as poor as the next bum.

  11. Arthur Chu is a tragic example of a self-hating male. (I can’t call him a man, the word just doesn’t fit.)

    -jcr

    1. The world’s shortest song: “What I Like About Chu”

      1. You keep me warm at night.

        /narrows gaze nevertheless.

        1. My family is related to Asians by marriage, so I can say that.

    1. MERKEL: “And once I learn how to burn an Internet post, I vill destroy your posts in a ceremonial bonfire! Wait, is this thing on?”

    2. “Earlier this month, Facebook vowed to clean up racist content on its German website by partnering with a German Internet watchdog, called *Voluntary* Self-Monitoring of Multimedia Service Providers, to monitor suspected hate postings.” [emphasis added]

      Oh, it’s voluntary. That’s a relief, because here I though the German government was trying to censor Facebook.

      But no, it’s just the German government saying, “I am hopink you vill take some *voluntary* action against zese enemies of the state, ja?”

      (I get to make these jokes because I’m part German)

      1. Vee Germans are not all fun and games.

        I have no German in me. That I know of. Who knows, maybe some Goth banged an ancestor of mine.

        1. Goth chicks are hot. Too bad they smell like clove cigarettes.

          1. I’ve never been attracted to goth chicks since I encountered the goth clique in high school. Some of the girls looked nice, but, as you mentioned, they smelled like clove and/or tobacco cigarettes, usually smelled like B.O. from being drugged out for days on end, and some body part or another was always oozing pus from a botched attempt at self-piercing.

            Yada yada, judging the many based on the few, I know, I know, but being around those people just snuffed out any attraction to goth girls forever.

  12. I didn’t know who this Chu was until recently. So I looked him up. Big mistake.

    Quite the middling, mediocre mind filled with SJW gibberish.

    Other than that, I suggest he calls whatever it is he does ‘Chu on this.’

  13. I’ll just leave this here about the UN:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGtPPkmvW_0

  14. Ken Popehat is a support of anti-SLAPP legislation. Translated: he is for one way freedom of speech.

    If one is a developer and there is an environmental group that is defames you during a hearing in front of a county planning committee, Ken Popehat thinks that the commie totalitarian environmental group should be immune from the consequences of its defamatory speech.

    Ken Popehat – not a friend to liberty.

    1. How is that relevant to his actual takedown of Chu’s argument?

    2. So suing people is freedom of speech, now?

      1. Note: An anti-SLAPP statute just allows a lawsuit to be dismissed early if the plaintiff can’t show that they have even a small chance of succeeding. In other words, it prevents assholes from tying people up and sucking their wallet dry with frivolous lawsuits.

        How does this constitute “one way freedom of speech” again?

        1. To stress the Wanderer’s point, anti-SLAPP statutes do nothing to protect speech that is actually defamatory, as in Libertymike’s theoretical (assuming the speech actually is false and defamatory, and you’re not just suing someone because they called you a big meanie).

          But apparently, to Libertymike, real liberty is using the coercive mechanisms of the state to punish people who say things you don’t like.

    3. Do you have any–even the slightest, tiniest idea–what you are talking about?

    4. Ah, I see LM has well and truly gone off the rails, at last.

  15. “…decreased sexual interest in their girlfriends or wives; report increased interest in coercing partners into unwanted sex acts.”

    I see. Ok then.

  16. “women face a lot of nastiness (doxing, harassment, threats, etc.) on the internet.”

    Is there any actual measure of overall “nastiness” that takes place… or is it all self-reported?

    because my impression of the internet overall… is that when anyone says things in public places, if the things they say are stupid, contentious, controversial, etc…. they can expect to receive a substantial amount of ‘harassment’ (aka “people saying mean stuff”)

    i’d guess people don’t even have to say stupid things – , a large proportion of public reaction will always be potentially “unpleasant”

    That’s because its the internet, and anonymity breeds juvenile behavior

    the claim that women receive*disproportionate* amounts of unpleasantness… well, i’d need to see some very detailed proof that it is in fact the case

    What i believe the evidence shows is a combination of 2 things = women are more likely to put out contentious statements… and then act completely shocked when they receive *exactly the same kind of adverse commentary that anyone else receives*

    i’m aware that there are studies showing that if a person creates fake usernames, one female, one male, that the female one can attract more reactions (positive and negative) to the same statements.

    I don’t consider that (which i accept as true) necessarily evidence of ‘cyberbullying’ so much as people being generally more interested in interacting in some way with what they think is the opposite sex.

    1. “Is there any actual measure of overall “nastiness” that takes place… or is it all self-reported?”

      0.66% of gamergate twitter accounts were harassing.

      http://blogjob.com/oneangrygam…..am-report/

      Robby is being an SJW pile of shit for defending these claims.

      1. I didn’t ask about Gamergate, you silly little person

        1. Chu’s column the UN report, anita and Zoe’s testimony and the fucking article is about gamergate dip shit.

    2. “the claim that women receive*disproportionate* amounts of unpleasantness… well, i’d need to see some very detailed proof that it is in fact the case”

      here is proof that shows the opposite:

      http://www.thedailybeast.com/a…..nline.html

      Written by Cathy Young no less….of course now that she is being called a rape apologist by SJWs online and in real life the numbers might be have changed. She does get harassed a lot now.

      1. “” the study…was limited to a fairly small sample of British celebrities, journalists and politicians whose Twitter timelines were tracked over a two-week period””

        uh, yeah, that’s not very interesting at all.

        You really need to take a break from this “Calling people SJW” thing you do all the time now. Its actually just adding credence to the equally-stupid-people’s claim that the term “means nothing”

        1. You think the people calling Cathy Young a rape apologists are not SJWs?

  17. Good wrap-up robby.

    I’ve sometimes criticized the “cut-paste stuff other people have said” replacement for actually making a libertarian argument…but this does a good job of it, including a variety of voices to clarify the big picture.

    Side question = is abuse of Robby’s hair cyberbullying?

  18. Cyberbullying?

    Cyberbullying is to real-world physical bullying as spam emails from Nigerian attorneys about my deceased distant cousin is to armed bank robberies, okay?

    The UN has wars all over the middle east and a massive refugee crisis, and they waste their time and resources on this juvenile drek?

    1. IOW, this report actually did not, contra Robby, “identify a real problem”.

    2. “The UN has wars all over the middle east and a massive refugee crisis, and they waste their time and resources on this juvenile drek?”

      I think you just answered your own question there.

    3. The UN has wars all over the middle east and a massive refugee crisis, therefore they waste their time and resources on this juvenile drek?

      1. ….eggsachtly

  19. I’m surprised the UN report didn’t manage to connect Gamergate to the devil state of Israel. Everything the UN does eventually gets connected to the Palestinians, no matter how spurious.

    1. Talking about Syria, Someone on a radio show texted ‘If Israel would just stop its apartheid state, the Middle-East would have a chance at peace’. The professor who took the question was literally stunned. He proceeded to basically bitch slap this moron with historical facts and even scolded him for being a moron.

      Problem is, PLENTY of people think like that jerk off.

  20. I make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to $86h? Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link… Try it, you won’t regret it!……

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  21. “Gamergate foes Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn?face a lot of nastiness (doxing, harassment, threats, etc.) on the internet.”

    You suck at your job Robby.

  22. Sometimes man you jsut have to roll with it.

    http://www.Full-Anon.tk

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