With online harassment an ever-pressing issue, especially for women, it was reported Friday that Twitter is teaming up with nonprofit group Women, Action and the Media (WAM!) and releasing a new tool for users to report incidences of abuse and harassment.
The tool is actually an online form on the WAM! website that asks users several questions about the nature of the harassment incident. According to WAM!, the form allows “users (to) report gendered harassment details that have never before been tracked and analyzed.” Reports, once validated by WAM!, will be “escalated” to Twitter, and the group will then “track Twitter’s response to different kinds of gendered harassment.” This would take place over a pilot test period, after which, WAM! “will analyze the data collected and use it to work with Twitter to better understand how gendered harassment functions on their platform, and to improve their responses to it.”
Twitter had previously received a lot of flak for its lax responses to abusive behavior, but according to a company spokesman, it works closely with different outside groups in efforts to curb online harassment, and is constantly trying to improve how it handles these incidents. As for WAM!, the group said that Twitter was willing to help in its efforts to help women as they deal with harassment incidents on the Internet.
But what can be constituted as harassment? WAM! says that this isn’t necessarily limited to blatant examples like threats or insults. “Harassment isn’t always obvious,” said WAM! executive director Jaclyn Friedman in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “There are nuanced tactics beyond obvious threats, like fabricating quotes to undermine someone’s reputation.”
The launch of the WAM! online form and its tie-up with Twitter comes on the heels of the so-called “Gamergate” fiasco, an issue that has seen a number of women connected to the video game industry receive death and rape threats from irate gamers. Sadly, this remains an issue as of this writing, even as Blizzard Entertainment head Mike Morhaime publicly condemned such behavior, asking gamers to “redouble (their) efforts” to respect women.