Panel Recap: Sexual Exploitation, Sexual Expression and Self-Defense
Author/sex blogger Violet Blue on online harassment
By Rebecca Farr,
1:33PM, Tue. Mar. 17, 2009
People will say things online they would never say IRL (in real life). Author/sex blogger Violet Blue's panel Sexual Exploitation, Sexual Expression and Self-Defense discussed at length the most famous example of this, the case of Lori Drew and Megan Meier. The two families lived down the street from each other, and Lori's daughter and Megan had a falling out. Lori, along with an 18-year-old boy and some other unnamed teenagers, created a MySpace account for an imaginary boy, "Josh," who first made friends with Megan, then became her online boyfriend. The story ends when "Josh" told Megan the world would be better off without her and she should kill herself, which she did a few days later. The mom, Lori Drew, was convicted of a federal misdemeanor for violating MySpace's terms of service.
As the blogosphere is exploding with social networking sites like MySpace, and teenagers and everyone else are spending more time in these online communities, the issues of online sexual harassment and regulation to prevent it are more pressing than ever.
The panel posed the question, how can we protect ourselves and our children from online harassment while we wait for our legal structure to catch up? If it's something small, you can choose to ignore it. But in case of escalation, record everything and report it to the police. Take printouts of offending posts and emails downtown and ask the police to keep them on file in case of later need. If you are blogging and have secrets, out yourself politely before the harassers can find and use the information against you. In your blog, stay on your topic – post new interesting material rather than getting distracted with defending yourself. Finally, keep it hard technologically for the harasser to find you IRL. For blogging and other online posting, use an anonymizing service such as www.torproject.org. Even better buy a laptop that you only use for blogging and distribute your posts from as many different physical locations (coffee shops, city parks, etc.) as you can, so they can't track you back to your home, office or school.