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The Inevitable Death of the Internet Troll 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the sticks-and-stones dept. writes James Swearingen writes at The Atlantic that the Internet can be a mean, hateful, and frightening place — especially for young women but human behavior and the limits placed on it by both law and society can change. In a Pew Research Center survey of 2,849 Internet users, one out of every four women between 18 years old and 24 years old reports having been stalked or sexually harassed online. "Like banner ads and spam bots, online harassment is still routinely treated as part of the landscape of being online," writes Swearingen adding that "we are in the early days of online harassment being taken as a serious problem, and not simply a quirk of online life." Law professor Danielle Citron draws a parallel between how sexual harassment was treated in the workplace decades ago and our current standard. "Think about in the 1960s and 1970s, what we said to women in the workplace," says Citron. "'This is just flirting.' That a sexually hostile environment was just a perk for men to enjoy, it's just what the environment is like. If you don't like it, leave and get a new job." It took years of activism, court cases, and Title VII protection to change that. "Here we are today, and sexual harassment in the workplace is not normal," said Citron. "Our norms and how we understand it are different now."

According to Swearingen, the likely solution to internet trolls will be a combination of things. The expansion of laws like the one currently on the books in California, which expands what constitutes online harassment, could help put the pressure on harassers. The upcoming Supreme Court case, Elonis v. The United States, looks to test the limits of free speech versus threatening comments on Facebook. "Can a combination of legal action, market pressure, and societal taboo work together to curb harassment?" asks Swearingen. "Too many people do too much online for things to stay the way they are."

Comment: Re:"general market" computers (Score 1) 117

by K. S. Kyosuke (#48211055) Attached to: Xerox Alto Source Code Released To Public

I agree that the comment that sparked this was talking about special purpose machines (tabulators, etc.) vs computers. I suspect that he went googling for computer history, though, and found the rather specialized definition of "general purpose computer" that the mainframe people created.

I didn't "google" for it, I have known this since I was nine or ten, a quarter century ago, when I got interested in the history of computing. Although I admit that in my native tongue, we called them "universal computers", not "general-purpose computers", which is obviously the same meaning in English, as per the IBM page. The English form of the same term is the only thing I found recently. (Obviously, all the historical publications I was reading as a kid were in my native tongue, not in English.)

Also, some of the old low-end business machines (even the stored program ones, of course, otherwise I wouldn't mention it) had more in common with the tabulating equipment than you might think: many of them were designed to be plugged into the tabulating workflow, given that they were very limited in their internal storage. Only the larger business machines were self-sufficient. I'm not really sure there was any fixed frontier between the tabulating equipment and standalone business computers.

Comment: Re:"general market" computers (Score 1) 117

by K. S. Kyosuke (#48207349) Attached to: Xerox Alto Source Code Released To Public
Yes, but the original comment that sparked the whole debate was clearly addressing the issue of converging mainframe architectures, and so was I, and so were people in the 1960s writing on the topic, which is why this usage still exists when debating the computers of that particular period. It's obviously not the only term that has to be interpreted in context.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp