What Women Know About the Internet

Apr 10, 2019 · 311 comments
Hank (Port Orange)
Some taxi companies have women drivers so the passenger can specify a women driver. I suggest using one of these. The medallion they must have is reasonable protection for the passenger.
Serena Saxton (Hoggard High School, Wilmington, NC)
To make progress we have to listen to those asking for change. When women speak up about terrifying experiences they’ve had, in real life or on the internet, more people need to take them seriously and work to make sure these things don’t happen anymore. Harassers exist all over the internet and social media and some go too far in a way that makes a person feel uncomfortable with themselves and now the internet as well. I think as we begin to make change we should put people in charge who can speak from personal experience and know exactly what is needed to improve.
A Faerber (Hamilton VA)
Author: "I gradually tightened my privacy settings across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I mostly stopped sharing personal, nonwork-related updates and deleted photos of my children; I haven’t posted new pictures for more than a year." Man here. I completely stopped sharing personal and nonwork updates years ago. Deleted photos too and haven't posted new pictures in six years. Why is this a gender thing? It is common sense. You are not in middle school anymore.
Gershom (Toronto)
I think the only way to be invulnerable against these forces is for one to lose all fear of one's secrets being exposed.
Jodi (New York, NY)
There are sites now that put people's personal information --- address, phone number, income, age, personal financial problems etc --- online front and center even before you click on their site. Places like mylife.com and others. It seems to be a growth industry, but the sources are also suspect. They say the information is all public on the internet, but how can it be when so much of it dates back to before there was an internet? Perhaps some of it comes from banks and credit agencies which are supposed to be so safe? And just because sites ask for your information when you register, it does not follow that you are giving them permission for them to sell or make it available elsewhere. It makes people, especially women so easily and casually vulnerable to identity theft, stalking and other mischief. It can be used for age discrimination at work or targeted scams. Congress should do more to limit what companies can do with the information they collect, especially without people's knowledge or permission.
Ragz (Austin, TX)
What a double faced sham of an article. Everyone needs safety online. Why is my life and property as a man less important than a woman's? It is this double faced hypocrisy which begs for equal rights while at the same looking for special treatment and protections for women that is disgusting about the feminists and their ilk.
rachel (MA)
@Ragz Did I miss the part where she said anything about special treatment or protections for women? No, she didn't. She's expressing that women experience it differently, much like we experience walking down a street at night differently. With mostly men making the decision making at internet companies, the considerations for women's security concerns is not always the same. The example of the shared Lyft ride is particularly glaring.
John B (Midwest)
@rachel Yes. You did miss the part. Read the headline of the article.
Natalie B (San Francisco)
Because, rape. @Ragz
John Jones (Cherry Hill NJ)
WHERE PRIVACY Is concerned, the tech world shows itself to be the boys' club that it is. The large majority of top people in tech world are male. So they inherently take a different view of the impact of online communication. In her book, You Just Don't Understand, sociolinguist Deborah Tannen gives many examples of the different meta messages that women and men send unconsciously. She gives examples of cases where women give more subtle indications of dissatisfaction or disagreement than men, typically. For example, where a male boss might say, You'd better do whatever it takes to have that report on my desk in the morning; while a female boss might say, do you think you could possibly have that report to me by tomorrow morning (intending that to be a deadline to be strictly observed). So it is likely that, if enlightened about gender-related metamessages, the male guardians of security and safety online would interpret the requests more accurately. And vice versa. Just as it is possible for people to learn new languages, it is possible for them to learn to understand and to vary their use of gender-related metamessages. But it will take industry becoming aware of the differences and restructuring security measures to reflect support for metamessages in typically in feminine styles as much as they support metamessages in typically masculine styles. The first step is to realize that, on both sides of women's safety and privacy online, You Just Don't Understand.
Unimpressed (Somewhere)
Everything is a women’s issue ... and nothing. I’m a man. I once had an online harasser. Someone who was angry over a professional decision I made that affected him. He threatened to kill me. So I did what the author did and reduced my online profile. I still look over my back, both IRL and on the internet. But my story doesn’t count because only women can be online victims.
hotGumption (Providence RI)
Why anyone, woman or man, would ever have posted photos of children or grandchildren online, completely flummoxes me. if ever there was a breach of personal privacy it's been that.
James (Savannah)
Illuminating, grotesque article. Left wondering why it's necessary to position oneself on the internet at all, even for a tech writer. Do we need personal Twitter/Facebook/Instagram accounts? Don't think so. And I wouldn't think it's ever a good idea to post photos of one's children; I can't imagine doing it. My mother's 90. For years she struggled with trying to board the internet train, finally gave it up. We should all be so lucky.
Randolph (Nebraska)
Not all, but many of these "men" doing this harassing are teenage boys being edgy jerks. Kids can be cruel, what can I say? Boys just seem to radiate that mean outward where girls tend to be mean to each-other. Of course not all, but enough. I'm not saying it's right but if you find a solution to make teenagers nicer, I'm all ears.
Eternal Tech (New Jersey)
"But if someone else — say, an unhappy ex — posted something about me online, I would not be able to get that taken down. Under Europe’s new law, though, I would at least be able to request such a post be removed." In the age of #MeToo, when many women make accusations against men without evidence, would this not also affect this practice? That is, if a woman posts that a man in her past abused her in some way, could the accused man request that such a post be taken down? Could Brett Kavanaugh request that all posts that involve unproven accusations against him be scrubbed from the Internet? As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for, you may just get it.
planetc (Dryden, NY)
The problem that's usually ignored in discussions of online chat is that the more women self-censor, the less we hear what they have to say. About anything and everything. The internet has been fraught with peril for women for at least 20 years, and it gets worse all the time. For most of the life of the internet we have not found out what women have to say, what their perspectives are, or what their experience has taught them. We are trying to forge boldly into the future with half the population gagged. Women feel keenly the persistent grumble of male gate-keepers, and most women have been trained from childhood to keep the peace, which means to keep men from coming to blows. Or if they can't keep men from coming to blows, to leave them to it. Women are in significant numbers leaving the internet to men. We are all much poorer for their fear and forbearance.
Marty (Pacific Northwest)
@planetc Yours is the best online post I have read in my 35+ years of using the internet.
planetc (Dryden, NY)
@Marty Thank you, Marty.
Litewriter (Long Island)
This is a timely and important piece. Just a quibble or two: I would prefer the formulation that "Digital privacy is a PERSON's issue." For far too long, we have all been brainwashed to think that "people" means "men," which means that women aren't "people." Thus, systems should all be set for strong privacy; if MEN want settings different from what PEOPLE want, let them do that on their own time. Secondly: Re: the Lyft cars that post their passenger's name -- it seems to me that a simple and obvious fix is to publicize the DRIVER's name, instead.
Tim Clark (Los Angeles)
@Litewriter I can see the use of displaying a Lyft passenger's name above the dashboard to confirm that one is in the right vehicle. I can't see the need for Lyft retaining that passenger's name in its database.
JPE (Maine)
@Litewriter Read Charlie Savage's piece in today's NYT. There can be no such thing as digital privacy, because everything on the internet is journalism, even if it is revealed by hacking, and therefore its publication is protected by the 1st amendment. Whose petard are we talking about?
Litewriter (Long Island)
@Tim Clark But whose convenience is paramount, here? Driver? Or customer? They can tell the customer who the driver should be and, given recent news, they had better start doing exactly that, or be put out of business by lawsuits from grieving relatives.
Renee W. (CA)
This article reminds me of the time I took a short Uber ride (10 minutes max), and about half-way in the driver asked me for my number. I was in college, a young female, and he looked to be mid-30s, early 40s. I realize that, in the normal course of human interactions, there will be people you are not interested in who will ask you for your number, but to me the whole situation was terrifying - here I was, stuck in this much older man's car, with it being ultimately up to him if I was to be dropped off or not. The ride eventually ended after I refused and stayed silent for the rest of the ride (and he eventually gave up on making small talk with me), but every time I read yet another article about a male Uber driver assaulting / killing a female passenger, I count myself lucky that my experience ended in such a banal manner.
left coast finch (L.A.)
@Renee W. Why do people persist in using these unregulated services? To save a buck? Why would you put yourself in situations created by companies who blatantly celebrate the fact they flout the very laws put in place for taxis and other forms of public transport designed to keep customers safe and not ripped off? A taxi driver can be traced back to his government-issued license. So you pay more but he’s not going to risk losing that license by harassing his customers. Obviously as in any group of humans, there’s always an outlier but the laws Lyft and Uber are flouting are laws that protect the customer. These companies are founded and run by men who couldn’t care less about women to extract every last dime of profit from its drivers working for pennies on the millions. I’m just shocked and amazed that liberals and women especially so glibly and blindly support these companies. I have absolutely no empathy for anyone who gets attacked or harassed when using services by companies that give the middle finger to government oversight. There’s nothing more conservative and Republican than Uber or Lyft. Stop using these services!
Lifelong Democrat (New Mexico)
@Renee W. One possible response: rather than refuse, give the driver a fake number. Maybe Trump's White House number? Maybe Mark Zuckerberg's number? Or the number of one of those robo call centers claiming to be from "Windows."
Cassandra (Vermont)
Unacceptable as this driver's behavior was, when such a situation occasionally arrises, your goal always is to assure your safe arrival at your destination. So, lie. Consider having a story ready. As a young woman, I would thank him for the compliment but say I had "just gotten engaged" and then rattle on about all the virtues of my incredibly strong, highly protective fiancee. When older, I was "recently widowed" and "not ready to date." Even when wearing a ring, some men still hit on me, but I could honestly say that I was faithful to my husband. Most have been deferential to the "rights" of another man and not pressed further. Saying "thank you" made me gag, and being dishonest was an anathema, but I arrived at my destinations with the good wishes of the driver. Further, in other parts of the world, this approach skirted potential cultural misunderstandings. Also consider changing the topic of conversation from you to him. Ask about his family, especially to bring to mind his female relatives, of whom he's likely to be protective. Does his grandmother or mother live near him? Does he have younger sisters and brothers? If he's old enough, does he have children? Etc. You're less likely to look like a target if he's thinking about his own family and also if he sees you as interested in him, which very few fares will have been. This kind of conversation is genuine and rewarding, not just self preservation.
Claire Fitzsimmons (New York)
The patriarchy is in the algorithms. Actually, let’s rephrase that. The white, cis, heteronormative patriarchy is in the algorithms. Our digital world has been created for and by cis, straight, white men. When they write the algorithms, they embed all their prejudices, biases, and assumptions into the programs, and now we’re all living in the digital world they created for themselves. As the algorithms change and learn from the behaviour of their users, the patriarchy festers inside them, reinforcing and amplifying the sexist, racist status quo, click by click. Content by women that do not center around men’s pleasure or monetary gain short circuit their systems. Radically honest and intersectional content about sex, dating, and relationships is content that the algorithms literally. can. not. compute. It corrupts the code. Triggers the spam settings. So we get censored. Deleted. Banned. Silenced. Historically, women of color, trans, non-binary people, women, queer people, and sex workers have been erased from records, data, and history books. These algorithms do little more than continue a violent history of erasing, deleting, and excluding our legacy, our voices, and our work.
Virgil T. (New York)
@Claire Fitzsimmons That there are billions of non-westerners on the net (China has its own internet culture and cares little for Western content) and literally tens of thousands of places where people can congregate and meet others in the same situations. These connections could have never happened before. I've heard of tons of stories of people saved from suicide by the simple act of finding someone even a little bit similar in their thought patterns. Tumblr for instance is one example of a gigantic platform where people could bond over some of the most intimate aspects of their lives (that is to say, until they banned erotic content...) If you feel underrepresented it's more likely that you have not looked beyond your own bubble a lot.
Douglas (Minnesota)
>>> "The white, cis, heteronormative patriarchy . . ." A term that strongly suggests that the writer would be more comfortable in a safe and protective digital space. That's fine. Those spaces exist, as they should. On the other hand, to demand that the entire digital world "reform" itself to provide special protections for the most emotionally fragile and frightened among us is . . . unreasonable and unacceptable.
A (W)
@Claire Fitzsimmons "Content by women that do not center around men’s pleasure or monetary gain short circuit their systems. Radically honest and intersectional content about sex, dating, and relationships is content that the algorithms literally. can. not. compute. It corrupts the code. Triggers the spam settings. So we get censored. Deleted. Banned. Silenced" Some examples here would go a long way towards making your comment convincing rather than sounding like it comes out of a Soviet propaganda screed. Of course, the truth is that the internet allows the spread of the very thing you are claiming is censored, in a way that has never before been possible. More "radically honest and intersectional content about sex, dating, and relationships" has been published on the internet of the "white, cis, heteronormative patriarchy" in the last two decades than in the entire rest of human history combined.
Jacob (New York)
This is such a strange article. We have to enact laws to keep women from feeling uncomfortable on the internet? Really? One would hope, and I strongly believe, that most women are strong enough that they don't need laws criminalizing things said online, and can instead either take it as part of the cost of participating in the Internet, or, and this one might shock you, they could just log off, or block people? We have perfectly find ways of dealing with this now. We do not need more laws regulating speech on the Internet, and we really don't need to keep infantilizing women like this.
Phobos (My basement)
@Jacob Yes. Did not you not read the article or what? Women are far more likely to be stalked than men and the people doing the stalking are largely men as well. Ergo, we need to regulate men's online behavior so women can use the Internet and have to worry about their safety.
Alice (Oregon)
No, we need laws to keep women from getting hurt by people who find them on the internet.
Anne Harris (Chicago)
@Jacob This is what women experience. That it's not your experience doesn't make it strange. When a woman is harassed online--threatened with rape, physically at risk because privacy protections aren't adequate--she's not uncomfortable, she's terrorized. Calling privacy regulations "infantilizing" tells us that you have no clue.
Barb (The Universe)
What else can be done? Make online harassment and threats of rape and other forms of violence a real crime! And as an addition to this excellent article: I am among I am sure many women who have curtailed their voice (and careers) because of not wanting to deal with the very real fears of vile and threatening men online. Here's to positive change.
Eternal Tech (New Jersey)
@Barb Making threats to cause bodily harm against others is a crime and has been a crime for many years. Whether that threat is made via the Internet, via telephone call, or via letter written with a fountain pen, it is illegal to threaten rape, attack, murder, etc. against another. However, it is not a crime to say something that makes someone "uncomfortable," providing that the statement does not threaten. If someone receives a threat, no matter the medium that is used to transmit it, then the authorities should be notified.
@Barb: Your world view comes across as saying, all men are "vile and threatening". Are you really afraid of your husband/significant-other, father, grandfather, son, brother, Pastor, male friends and co-workers? Hopefully not. Hopefully your world is full of men who respect you, and never threaten you. I would say your world IS full of such men. Yet you focus on the few minority of men who make you feel unsafe. This has become a problem in society - where women's world views have become anti-male. Men are not the problem. The problem is hate, denigration, manipulation, and attacks. And in these areas women are just as deft and frequent as the few men. The problem is the few men and few women who attack others: Bad people who attack other people. Let's not vilify men. Let's vilify the attackers - who are women and men. Some men may see you as an attacker, using your dangerous words. Please change your language, and your views, to not see men as the problem. You might start to see that you're surrounded by good men. Who wish the best for you, including removing fear and hate from your mind. Please don't make the world dangerous for all men. That would only expand the "gender war" you're in. And it will keep you fearful. Look to good men. Associate with them. Heal yourself of bad stereotypes. Here's to positive change.
Sipa111 (Seattle)
At a time when women have the strongest voices they have every had, we continue to have articles like this that depict and demean women as perpetual victims needing the protection of 'someone' else. Privacy affects everyone and if women's security is a concern, then be in the forefront of creating that security instead of whining that someone else do it. Martin Luther King and his cohort did not whine for someone else to grant them there civil right. They went out and fought for it. And lastly, no way in the world do men in Norway take more selfies that women. For women, taking selfies everywhere has become an extension of brushing there hair.
Rose Liz (PA)
Women have and do “fight” for our rights. One way to do so is to write books and articles that advocate for policies and institutions that respect our rights. It’s worth noting that such “fighting” also meets with an increase in the abuse and threats. See Gamergate.
Irving Franklin (Los Altos)
Speaking of privacy, especially privacy for women on the the Internet, it is plainly evident that many, if not most posters of comments in the New York Times public comments columns on its digital edition have used pseudonyms, and perhaps also fictitious like cation. What would the New York Times do if presented with a formal demand by federal or state law enforcement officials for the real name and location of a pseudonymous subscriber who posted an opinion in the NYT Comments that suggested the poster may have committed a crime, or possibly had knowledge about a crime. And what if that subscriber was a woman, or the crime was performing an abortion outside the time period set by a state? What would the NYT do?
Avery Mason (Canada)
I am somewhat confused by people, such as this author, who assume that the internet has an intent. The internet is neither good nor evil, it is merely a place where information is shared. If you do not want your information shared, do not go on the internet, or at the least seriously curtail your activity/disclosure on it (browse in private, avoid putting photos on it, avoid putting your personal details on it, stay anonymous or use pseudonyms where possible). If a service like snapchat requires your phone number, do not use snapchat. I have the right to buy a gun but I think they are dangerous so I do not buy one, same goes for snapchat. Likewise, most recent online business efforts on the internet are about collecting your data - if you give them your data you get something. If you want to stay anonymous avoid the services. Lyft can be avoided, use a taxi, or a bike or walk or public transit (environmentally friendly!). There was a time 30 years ago when people lived perfectly fine lives without the internet (you can look this up if you doubt me). I get that people want to be famous and want others to read their articles and the easiest way to get people to read is to come up with a victim complex based story that the world is out to get one group. Sometimes the world is malicious, but with the internet, if you are afraid of what others will learn about you, do not give put your info online!
KDB (.)
"I am somewhat confused by people, such as this author, who assume that the internet has an intent." The only place that Chang mentions "intent" is in this sentence: "In fact, some features of digital life have been constructed, intentionally or not, in ways that make women feel less safe." That has two mistakes, neither of which are what you claim. First, it is not clear whether Chang is referring to *all* women or to *some* women. Second, it excludes men. In fact, some male bloggers have been murdered for what they posted on the internet. As for your suggestions, they are as useful as saying that if you don't want to get into a car crash, don't drive a car.
JT (Southeast US)
It states that 75% of victims of cyber stalking are women. I'll bet the other ~ 25% are gay men being stalked by other men. This means that 100% of the cyber stalkers are men.
Avery Mason (Canada)
@JT, Let me state the obvious. As you do not know who the other 25% are, you cannot draw any conclusions (including the one you made). One hurts the level of discourse when one makes assumptions based on nothing and then pretends to draw conclusions. I might say "JT has made up facts and drawn a make-believe conclusion, given the erroneous nature of this logic it means that JT is completely uneducated". Perhaps the conclusion is true, but more likely it is false. Sadly, some people would take the conclusion that JT is uneducated as a given. We should all try to be more rigorous in our thinking.
M. (Washington)
It wasn't so long ago that mobs of white supremacists in this country terrorized innocent people with abhorrent acts of violence. Now the intellectual descendants of those mobs have found a different way to cope with their insecurities: by tapping on little buttons. Not only does this make them very easy to avoid (just don't use Twitter, reddit, etc.), it keeps many of them so busy that they won't have time to start a family to whom they could pass along their hateful tendencies. When you look at it this way, maybe we should be taking steps to make social media even more enticing for the trolls. Let's give them more anonymity, less censorship, and fake targets. Every minute they spend yelling at each other from behind their keyboards is a minute they don't spend harassing you or me in real life.
vbering (Pullman WA)
One more time: If you put anything into a computer, any keystroke at all, you need to make the assumption that you are doing it in the middle of Main Street, in your underwear, on camera, for all the world to see. Haven't we gone over this?
Me (DC)
I feel like it bears mentioning that having a legal right to gag a spurned ex online appears to be completely at odds with the first amendment and given my general cynicism about the age in which we live it'll probably be mostly used to keep women from posting lists of creeps which is a best use case for airing dirty laundry as can potentially keep women informed and safe.
hammond (San Francisco)
Two ideas come to mind that would vastly improve online safety, without the need for censorship: 1. Require any service that requires personal information of any type to set the default privacy settings to maximum. And further, those maximum settings should be such that NO information is released to anyone. Too often I find that services like Facebook default to the minimum privacy settings. And since those change frequently, they seem to go back to the default. 2. Allow only need-to-know access by any employee of a company that uses personal information of their clients, and log that access. This is routine practice in the medical setting: a healthcare professional may not access the medical records of any person that is not under their care. Every time a medical record is accessed the name of the person requesting it is logged.
Norm Weaver (Buffalo NY)
Anyone of either sex can be harrassed, swindled, defrauded or have other bad things happen to them. Of course women are more at risk. Because of the obvious risks you have to protect yourself. Many - especially the young are too uninformed or careless to protect themselves. Don't wait for "someone" to "do something". The Internet is a powerful tool if you handle it as carefully as you would a very sharp knife. Most of the incidents that I read about were preventable by the victim. You can lock down your social media accounts so that you are reasonably safe. Over time, society will get a better handle on the Internet and it will be made safer. For now it is new, very powerful and potentially very dangerous. No, don't post selfies. Don't permit just anyone to see what you are posting. Be as careful as you parents told you to be when you went out on your first date. It's not rocket science.
hammond (San Francisco)
My daughter, then ten years old, was propositioned while playing Runescape. For those like me who don't know the gaming world, Runescape is an MMRP (massively multiplayer role-playing) game. By that point we'd turned off the useless child filters, and replaced them with information on how to conduct oneself online. My daughter immediately told me of the incident, and assured me that she'd revealed no personal information whatsoever, neither name nor age nor location. She found it rather humorous. But imagine if she hasn't the ability to insure her privacy. Maybe she takes Uber pool, as Ms. Chang's friend did. Or maybe her name appears to a total stranger on Venmo. (I routinely see transactions between people I don't know.) Or maybe someone follows her on Instagram and figures out from the images where she lives. There are so many creepy people in this world, many of whom have nothing better to do that stalk the Internet. One hopes that their audacity is limited to creepy comments, but I'm sure at least a few have more sinister intent. These people have always existed. It's hard to see how regulation alone will solve the problem. Perhaps requiring a version of HIPAA that applies to any service that requires personal information will help. But there's no substitute for being smart and prudent; a fact women learn at a much younger age than men do.
MKR (Philadelphia PA)
I'm a man and I have NEVER: -- placed a profile on line -- disclosed my "relationship status" on line --put a selfie on line To do so is to waive your privacy. How can anyone fail to realize that?
Tlaw (near Seattle)
From the beginning of various of online site I had the sense that they would not protect my privacy and stopped using them very quickly. My disguised info was detected by our daughter early on and asked about it. I am amazed at anyone using the various public info exchange systems expecting privacy. Simply put I have a facebook account but it is not used for any purpose. Using these communication systems in my opinion is just asking for trouble. My political views are clearly expressed on this page and on the WAPO comments. I have no use for our mr. t and his fellow travelers. We are both retired and just pursue our personal interests. If our opinions are dangerous so be it and fortunately I can still explicitly make my concern known.
Tom W. (NYC)
Just asking. Why is there anonymity on the Internet? I don't mean a clever (or not) UserID, which is fine as long as the user's real identity is known to the computer service. But threatening someone is assault, whether in person, on the phone, by mail or on the internet. If John Smith wants to call himself Superman that's fine. But if Superman threatens someone on the Internet, and a complaint is filed, then Mr. Smith should be contacted by the service and told to cease and desist. Should Mr. Smith persist then it should be forwarded to the local Police Department for necessary action. The Internet is not a safety island for illegal behavior. A threat is an assault, and assaults are illegal.
LFA (.)
"... if Superman threatens someone on the Internet ..." You are oversimplifying. Online harassment can include name-calling, mockery, false attribution*, and flooding**, for example. * Misrepresenting what someone said (also called a "straw man" attack). NB: This could be defamation. ** Sending a large number of messages to a user. Or posting a large number of derogatory comments.
Val Herman, MD (Menlo Park, CA)
Hmmm reading all the privacy articles while NYT keeps popping up ads to a company i purchased something recently and returned. I have asked not to see the ads more than ten times but they keep popping up. Not reassuring. Creepy.
Joseph (Sacramento)
It is mind boggling that so many men feel so cheated by life that their instincts are to log on and bash women at the expense of common sense. I never thought the day would come where the same people who want to bring back the days of chivalry suddenly can't admit that women are on average physically weaker than men (which puts them in greater danger by default) out of nothing more than a pathetic, warped sense of pride. Grow up. If anything the internet and especially the consolidated nature of social media has created a safe space for these cowards to vent their grievances at what comes down to nothing more than base sexual frustration. Grow up.
LFA (.)
"... can't admit that women are on average physically weaker than men ..." Strength is irrelevant on the internet. And anyone can learn basic self-defense skills, such as situational awareness and escape moves.
India (midwest)
I have Facebook and Instagram accounts. I rarely post but use them to keep up with family and friends. One must ask to be allowed to see my account. But I have had sexual harassment that was quite disturbing. It happened in 1966 when my engagement was announced in the "Society" page of my local, midwest city's newspaper. A few days later, I received an envelope with no return address. I opened it and someone had added an enormous penis right on my face in my engagement photograph. I was shocked! I was 22 years old and it was 1966. I called the local Postmaster, and he told me that this happened quite often - no way to find out who did this, but all had no other contact from this person. If I did, he told me to contact him immediately and he would contact the FBI. Nothing else ever arrived. So, this has been going on for a long time. In those days, everyone I knew had their engagement and wedding announced in the newspaper - it was thrilling that it was accepted. I do see the Facebook pages of many college age young women I know and I am shocked. They are photographed in the tiniest bikinis at the beach, in VERY short, very revealing "romper" outfits at their college. In all of these, they pose in a very "come hither" manner. Frankly, I don't know what their parents are thinking - surely they tell them that this is not a great idea. I have no idea if they have ever been bothered, but to me, this is risky behavior on their part.
LFA (.)
"... no way to find out who did this, ..." Even in 1966, that could have been investigated further: 1. Postmark. 2. Fingerprints. 3. Fibers. 4. Paper. 5. The images (They must have been printed or copied somehow.) 6. Ink and handwriting (from the address). And now: 7. DNA (e.g. from saliva under the stamp) Anyway, I commend you for taking the initiative to contact "the local Postmaster".
hammond (San Francisco)
@India: Sorry to hear of your experience. Regarding the college-aged girls (women, really), they are adults and their parents have no say on the matter. But, I largely agree with your point. (Full disclosure: I have a daughter in college, and she occasionally posts these types of images.) Regarding wedding announcements in the paper: don't do it! Personally, I never publish anything using my real name--comments in the NY Times, opinions and other writing elsewhere--unless I'm required to: only for scientific publications and my part-time work as a photojournalist.
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
Recently the Times ran a column from one of their people who claimed she was proud of her gadget addiction. To quote our Entertainer-In-Chief, "Sad!" The Times focus on privacy and the internet is simply decades too late. Where was the Times years ago, when it was clear where the internet love affair (a.k.a. corporations hiring ad agencies to convince people the internet was an inherent force for good and progress) would lead, at least to any non-self-serving (i.e. tech corporation) interest and any non-addicted individual? As with all addictions, getting the monkey off your back is very hard. It will take something major, such as much of our electric grid going down or China commandeering an F-35 through embedded code in all the chips we depend on them for, before we, as a society, even begin to take the issue of the internet's inherent insecurity seriously. While people scream about the government's limited data collection, they happily give up much more information to corporations, which have absolutely no accountability to our people. Recently Best Buy wanted my fingerprint to buy a printer. I said, "Not if you want my money!" Wells Fargo wanted prints to cash a check. I said, "You want me picketing?" Both backed off. Say no, mean it, even at a price!! None of the Presidential candidates is taking the underlying issue seriously, a few going as "far" as merely suggesting "laws" that are effectively unenforceable or which can be subsumed as a cost of doing business.
Kathy Leichter (NYC)
Why post an article about how women don't feel as safe on line as men and then run a Mercedes-Benz ad in it with a tall blonde woman (thanks for perpetuating the Barbie stereotype of beauty) standing by/"selling the car"? Really? Though you shouldn't allow sexist ads at all on your website--ads that perpetuate women being thought of as objects, especially in this day and age!!!!--in an article ABOUT THIS VERY THING, I truly find this disappointing, problematic, and wrong.
LFA (.)
"... a Mercedes-Benz ad in it with a tall blonde woman ..." You are the second commenter to mention that ad.* Anyway, the Times's editors don't select the ads. I can't find the ad online. Could you post more details? Did the model get into the car and drive it? What was the model wearing? Were there any other models in the ad? What was the music? Etc. * Reasonable Facsimile (Florida)
Joe (Raleigh, NC)
@Kathy Leichter "Why post an article about how women don't feel as safe...then run a Mercedes-Benz ad in it with a tall blonde..." For most Americans, their car is their identity & self-image. If sex want out of car ads, the automotive industry would all but grind to a halt. If a generation of women were to no longer find men attractive based on their driving a nice car, things would change. I'm waiting....
Paul (Brooklyn)
This is an issue the NY Times and its' Neo feminists followers should concentrate on, keeping all people but especially women same on the internet. What not to do? run an identity obsessed, women must have 50+% of everything whether they deserve it or even want it and bash all of today's men for five millions yrs. of existence campaign like Hillary did. What happens when you do that? You hurt all people including women and help elect an ego maniac demagogue like Trump.
Mystery Lits (somewhere)
Yep those weak little women need to be coddled.... because they just can't take care of themselves..... and we need censorship. So...... Progressive? Leave it to the NYT to infantilize women like this.
Anne (San Rafael)
I use an alias on Facebook and used that same alias for my Uber account (as I signed up via Facebook). Aliases are very important for the digital age.
Serrated Thoughts (The Cave)
Aside from the issue of sexual assault, which men are far less likely to report than women, how are these privacy concerns “women’s issues?” Anyone with any good sense has privacy concerns on the internet and men as well as women are harmed by the theft of intimate photos, steamy letters, or just personal data. Perhaps women are more likely to share nude selfies, but I’m not sure that this makes internet privacy a women’s issue alone. And whether we label something a women’s issue does matter. Calling something a women’s issue puts it out of the realm of concern for men. Suddenly women assert special privilege in speaking to that issue and men’s opinions, thoughts, and input are considered irrelevant. Maybe you think that’s all for the good, but how has labeling parental leave, reproductive rights, and reentry into the workforce after taking care of young children “women’s issues” advanced these causes? It hasn’t. It’s just ensured that men who might be interested in supporting progressive stances on these issues are marginalized. You don’t change the world by ring fencing issues as belonging to one group. You change the world by making everyone care about an issue, by making it relevant to everyone. And even if you think we live in a male dominated, patriarchal society, where these really are just women’s issues, marginalizing your structurally more powerful allies seems pretty dim...
Susannah Allanic (France)
I've been playing MMOGs ever since they were more properly known as MMORPG. Before that, I worked in hospitals patient care units. I learned in Junior High School, now more commonly called Middle School, that females must be able to evaluate the situations they find themselves in and swagger strongly enough that they can leave. I can't remember any time except now, that I am 69, that I haven't been teased, harassed, or touched inappropriately by a man. That's the key word : 'a'. The majority of men I've known in my life have not been inappropriate with me. I think, no believe, that is because when they or anyone disrespects me I refuse to accept an apology. I simply don't associate with people who do not respect me and I can do this because I know I'm a good person who lives by my standards of integrity. I still play MMOGs. Most young men, in mostly the USA, are aggressive. They don't know if I am male of female, only that I write in English. When they discover, thought internet chat that I am female the aggressive behavior begins. I occasionally might not win a PVP challenge. That's when I realized that patriarchy is easily broken, all one needs to do is beat them at their own game. What I know about the internet is young women will fall in love with who they don't know and young men will challenge rank. Most of all what I know is the old cliche : On the internet nobody knows if you're a dog.
Ace (New Jersey)
Interesting and worthwhile article, but why does this have heightened importance for women? Privacy and all the issues in Chang’s article are important for all users of technology. Unless the underlying premise is that men are always predators searching to attack in some way women or that women can’t protect themselves.
Max Robins (White Plains, NY)
Maybe read the article again as it was all pretty clearly spelled out why the internet has heightened danger for women
Denise (NYC)
Perhaps because women are more likely to be raped. Being threatened with sexual violence, I believe, is something that occupies the minds of women far more frequently than men.
Chickpea (California)
@Ace Just read the comments here, on this article, and if that doesn’t open your eyes about how this is an issue particularly for women, there’s something wrong with your ability to read and understand. And remember, this is a moderated group. It’s far worse elsewhere. Try checking out the comments on the FB page of any woman in politics, particularly the Democrats. It’s truly ugly stuff. Men target women for abuse. Men can ignore that fact. Women do not have that luxury.
Frances Grimble (San Francisco)
Most of the online bullying I've suffered has been from women. It's been very real, including concentrated attempts to harm my small business. Sorry, but women are just as vicious as men.
nerdrage (SF)
I don't see the internet as a real place or my participation there as real in the same way my real life relationships are real. So I just adopt a persona and have fun. Anyone I care about, I can keep in touch with in the real world. This stuff is just goofy nonsense.
Ian Maitland (Minneapolis)
It takes some chutzpah for Emily Chang of all people to lecture us about invading people's privacy. She is a tattle-tale who lavished an entire chapter of her book on “sex and the Valley," “sex parties of the tech and famous," recreational sex and drugs, an so on. She turns her readers into Peeping Toms. She tells us more than we want to know about who is sleeping with whom in tech, and what sort of sexual escapades techies are into. At one point, the intrepid reporter puts on her shades and heads down to a downtown San Francisco strip club supposedly frequented by tech workers at noon. All in the interest of finding out the going price for a lap dance. She even manages to drag Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose and Donald Trump into her story of male oppression of women in tech. She denies she is prying or invading techies' privacy, and she piously disclaims any intention to judge people for their personal sexual lives, but nudge, nudge, wink, wink, no one is fooled. And if the sex sells a few more copies of the book, then what the heck? Chang is the unacceptable face of today's feminism -- she has weaponized sex to advance her career and to advance her movement's campaign to extort jobs, promotions and pay raises by terrorizing male tech grandees with her "investigative reporting."
Signal Mike (Pittsburgh, PA)
I've had it. Should the internet be designed to keep women save? Should it be designed to keep anyone safe? Are we not responsible for our own safety? Are we not all equal?
Frances Grimble (San Francisco)
@Signal Mike When hundreds of people bully one person online, that is not equality.
Amy Luna (Chicago)
Here's another phenomenon of male supremacist misogyny in which we are talking about effect on the victims (women) instead of writing about the common traits of the perpetrators hiding in plain sight. The "manosphere" is a collection of websites and forums that unapologetically, in no uncertain terms, teach men that males are superior to women, that we need to reinvigorate "manhood," and that men should take arms against their victimhood--often literally. Instead of dicussing what "women know about the internet," how about we discuss "what we know about the manosphere" and exposing the global cult of male supremacy that is growing right in front of us?
Oceanviewer (Orange County, CA)
Those who deliberately or maliciously harm or threaten others reduce the injured party’s QOL. These perpetrators need to be reined in due to their inability/unwillingness to self-censor. That’s life.
Quite Contrary (Philly)
"the internet isn’t designed for women"? Of course not, because it isn't designed by people who understand human learning, thus horrible websites and Facebook pages- the geeks mostly understand computers, and them not as well as we might wish. Lousy design is rampant. 1) The annoying animated graphic matches this annoying story. 2) In the morass of problems we are only beginning to try to deal with regarding the internet and social media, this baseless article extends false claims of victimhood onto women's turf. Many of us resent that, and would rather focus on the legitimate concerns about internet privacy, security and access that affect everyone. 3) When we now have to "pay to play" at every turn, the internet is becoming as deep a sinkhole of our aspirations to having an equitable, free society as anything else. This concerns me, but I've seen little or no discussion of it. 4) when "free" platforms like FB cancel accounts for whatever reason they wish, or no reason, there is no recourse. Such cancellations are numerous and permanent. This stifles freedom to participate in society, commerce and yet no discussion of that power these monopolistic giants exercise willfully. It punishes innocent people. We are paranoid about privacy/protecting free speech to the exclusion of all else. And it's long past the point where we can do much about it. We could do something about protecting access with existing consumer laws, but where do we begin? FCC? Not likely.
Marty (Pacific Northwest)
Ever notice how this subject is always framed in terms of “women,” as though we are the ones creating the problem? Same as with stories on domestic violence and rape, always reported with euphemisms, abstractions (my favorite: “abusive relationship”), and in passive voice. I don’t care a fig about making the internet more safe “for women.” I do care a great deal about making it less safe for predatory men. But we can’t phrase it that way, now can we?
Cranky Girl (Oregon)
Privacy incursions are everywhere. I never give my real first name to baristas, for instance. I give them a fake name to shout out across the store. Back when store clerks used to ask for phone numbers to verify accounts, I handed them a card rather than saying my number out loud in front of strangers. I very much dislike having my name shouted out in medical waiting rooms, but apparently that’s not a violation of HIPAA.
richard (pennsylvania)
To those who argue that this is as much an issue for men, I would remind them that between 90-95 % of sexual assault victims are female. No man I have ever spoken to has expressed concern about out getting into an Uber.
Phil Hood (San Jose)
I think two ideas that are sometimes separate--privacy and safety--are conflated here. The first thing we need in the US is a proper privacy law. We've never had one because banks lobby against it. Now tech firms do, too. They've built their entire business on selling our personal information and we need to turn the tables. They need to buy our information or not share it. Second, invasions of privacy have a price. I currently spend at least ten minutes a day getting rid of phone spam calls, unwanted emails, and other annoyances that are net-related. I value that time at about $15. If ten unwanted people who are possibly engaged in fraud knocked on your door daily there would be legislative action. But the issue of rude, intrusive, and violent language used, especially against women, is tougher to deal with. Laws alone, are not enough to deal with people who use anonymity to engage in sick behavior.
om (NE)
Ms. Chang: You have included Apple in with other techs that lobby against privacy protections. Correct me if I am wrong, but Tim Cook has been outspoken on Apple taking data protection and privacy very seriously, and specifically attacking Facebook et al.
CC C (Australia)
We already have laws that we can enforce. Why aren’t we doing that?
Steve (SW Michigan)
Anonymity on the web is a big problem. It has nurtured the extremes in our society. People say stuff online that they simply won't to someone's face.
Dave (Maine)
Most of the negative comments here decry "censorship". Is it "free speech" to walk up to a woman on the street and threaten violence? No. That is harassment and threat, and it is not protected under the law. But exactly the same behavior goes unchecked in the virtual world. Why? It's telling that most free-speech absolutists do not belong to vulnerable groups. Not everyone pays the same price for an anything-goes policy. I wonder how they'd feel after maintaining an online presence for a week as a woman, let alone one of color or minority orientation.
LFA (.)
"... most free-speech absolutists do not belong to vulnerable groups." How do you know that? Please cite a reliable source.
T. Rivers (Thonglor, Krungteph)
Why not just delete your Facebook account? If you really need it, make a fake one and only connect with people you actually know and speak with routinely (not ghosts from your high school days)? As for Instagram, if you must keep it because you love subjecting yourself to generic food photos and generic staged photos at temples and natural sites now overrun with other instagrammers, at least make your account private. Twitter is flat out inefficient and a complete and utter waste of time. There are real steps everyone can take to live a more private existence. But the fact of the matter is we don’t take these simple steps because deep down, most humans want to see and be seen by as many people as possible. And that involves handing over your privacy to do so.
markymark (Lafayette, CA)
This makes perfect sense to me as both a man and a father to two daughters. Of course there will be negative feedback from men who feel victimized when their ability to harass women is reduced or limited in any way. In many ways our internet is broken, and privacy is a big part of it. But it needs to happen right now.
Quite Contrary (Philly)
In the pre-Uber era, as a young college student without a car, living off campus, I used to hitchhike regularly. In my idealistic youth, I took it as a vote of confidence in humanity. I even did it against my husband and my parents' objections. In one threatening situation, I deflected with automatic bravado, and didn't even think about reporting the incident. Now? No way. And not just because I'm a lot older. The world has changed. We don't trust one another. And how much of that is rational, how much a gauge of how we ALL feel like prey? It's very sad, indeed, that humans in my lifetime have become so frightened of one another. The internet is clearly a part of that; as it's now become the commons where we interact. And a lot of us - corporations and individuals - behave like predators.
hen3ry (Westchester, NY)
The first thing many men/boys online do to women/girls online is to use disparaging language towards them if the women/girls disagree with them. Email can be even worse. I thought a man I knew from work could be my friend on email. I was wrong. All he wanted to use me for was to discuss sex. He asked intrusive and embarrassing questions. I told him to stop it. He didn't. I stopped responding to him but he continued to try to keep the "conversation" going. It seems that women/girls are considered fair game no matter where they are or what they say. The truth is that men do not understand women's fears, how we structure our lives to avoid being sexually assaulted, the way some of us "overlook" their bad behavior in favor of keeping our jobs. In other words, what goes on on the internet is a reprise of what goes on at work, in public places, in the home, and all around us.
LFA (.)
'I stopped responding to him but he continued to try to keep the "conversation" going.' Some email services let users block senders. Did you try blocking him? And if not, what happened next?
Articles such as this is the reason why I avoid using the word "feminist". I'm for the safety of ALL humans. Are women more vulnerable to being harassed -- online, offline, wherever -- not sure. But let's not slap the label "feminist" on everything thinking it'll ratchet up the importance. Safety is a priority on its own merit. I'm a woman raising two young girls and take extra precautions to teach them on what it means to be female and to protect oneself -- that doesn't make me a feminist. That makes me human. Frankly, Ms. Chang, everyone's privacy is at risk.
Lindsay K (Westchester County, NY)
@LRC - Yes, everyone’s privacy is at risk, but women’s privacy more so. And feminism is not a dirty word or something problematic that we’ve got to step around like a dirty puddle in the act of daily living. For the record, I’ve been harassed and insulted online, mainly by guys on dating websites. One genuine weirdo, after I failed to answer his initial exchange because he’d used his profile as a forum to complain about women, sent me an email in which he questioned my fertility and told me I was probably too old to have healthy kids (I was 27); another guy sent me an email in which he basically told me he was interested in talking to me because I didn’t come from a certain ethnic background. When I told him off, he accused me of not being able to take a joke, told me I needed to “simmer down”, and accused me of “always seeing the negative” in people. He also persisted in calling me “senorita” even though I told him to stop. In college, a roommate’s brother sent me vile and graphic insults via AIM (yes, I’m dating myself here). We’d never spoken before and to this day I have no idea why he targeted me. In high school, a boy sexually harassed me on the bus. And that’s not even that bad when you consider what other women go through online and in person every day. Crazy dirtbags are less likely to insult and persistently harass a guy online or in real life than they are a woman, and that is an unfortunate reality in many interactions.
Studioroom (Washington DC Area)
I'm a female web developer with over 20 years of being on the internet using social tools way before the term "social media" was defined. This is really an "enforcement" problem. None of the social media sites enforce their policies well, and are just now after a decade of 'anything goes', starting to crack down just a little on bad behavior. My point is, we don't need to make NEW laws, we should be ENFORCING laws we already have and making Facebook, Twitter and Google more accountable for their laziness in this area. The other thing is that the web provides an easy way to track down people who do break the law and/or harass, this means it is possible to find and punish trolls.
SDemocrat (South Carolina)
@studioroom It’s vital that states have harsher laws regarding stealing and publishing private info. South Carolina has such little fines/punishment for publishing stolen nudes that you might as well not even bother trying to sue. I have a friend whose lawyer advised her to not sue someone who stole explicit images and is profiting off them.
abdul74 (New York, NY)
"regulate" "regulate" "regulate That's the solution for everything of course.
Quite Contrary (Philly)
@abdul74 Well, laissez faire doesn't seem to be working out too well!
Pa Mae (Los Angeles)
What is your solution? I am all ears.
Murph (Murph)
I think we need to clarify the difference between "feeling safe" and "being safe." Much of what Chang uses as evidence are singular anecdotes of when people *felt* unsafe. Many of the top comments to this article are women describing Uber/Lyft experiences where they *felt* unsafe. I think it would be great if social media websites and ride sharing apps designed their systems so that women felt more safe. But I also think women need to understand that just because you feel unsafe does not mean you're in danger. Growing up in a big city, you often meet people from suburbs and small towns with an irrational fear of getting mugged. They always have an anecdote, something that happened to a friend. They always describe an uncomfortable encounter as if they narrowly escaped harm. And what it usually boils down to is an irrational fear of black men and homeless people. That irrational fear, that false equivalency between feeling safe and being safe, is part of the reason why we've had decades and decades of systemic racism in our policing and criminal justice system. It's why "Becky" and "Patty" called police on black kids at a pool party or a barbeque. So lets step back and take a breath before we start demanding a safer internet and consider whether we're actually in danger.
John (Sacramento)
It is deeply embarrassing to see the NY Times advocating for censorship.
Annie (Los Angeles)
@John Oh, sure! Until you or your family is threatened. Then what??
RS (California)
@John Sounds to me like you've never been cyberstalked.
Eternal Tech (New Jersey)
@Annie Threatening bodily harm is illegal and has been illegal for many years. If I or my family was threatened, I would notify the police, no matter the medium used to threaten me.
Eve Waterhouse (Vermont)
Seriously? Let's fiddle some more while Rome burns. Ladies ! The internet is nothing more than a virtual extension of life. What did your parents teach you about keeping yourself safe before Uber? It still applies.
Errol (Medford OR)
This entire article is a demand that women are somehow entitled to FEEL safe and that everyone else owes it to them to do whatever women want in order to satisfy their subjective requirements for feeling safe. No one has an entitlement to FEEL safe. People choose to feel any way they want for whatever reason they want. Why should their choices impose obligations to them from others? Women and men are entitled to BE safe so long as they are responsible and do not choose to act in a manner that creates threat to their safety. No car maker should be responsible for your injuries if you choose to ride sitting on the roof of your car. The legitimate complaints about social media operators are for the privacy invasion by those social media operators. If other members of the public use the information that people voluntarily post about themselves to harass or contact the poster, the responsibility for their harassment or contact is only on that person and on the person who voluntarily posted their personal information. Feminists don't accept any responsibility for themselves. They think they should be allowed to do whatever they please and the world has an obligation to provide them special protection when what they chose to do is stupid and exposes them to high risk. No sensible person, male or female, would walk alone at 2:00am in dangerous neighborhoods. So also, no sensible person would post to the world their personal information on social media in the first place.
Camille G. (Texas)
Inconvenient truth that sometimes women know they are unsafe visiting a park alone at 5:30 pm after work. I want that to change. I don’t agree with the author fully either, but you sound like you don’t have a good grasp on what it is like to live as a woman.
Serrated Thoughts (The Cave)
Camille G. I want you to feel safe visiting a park after work too. But what a lot of women don’t understand is that men have a much higher level of risk they are willing to accept. Men are far more likely than women to be the victim of a violent crime. Most men I know have been the victim of a street assault not once, not twice, but on several occasions. My female friends have almost no experiences like this. And yet, it’s men you see walking alone at night. Perhaps it is because women are told they have a right to be safe. Men, on the other hand, are told to “man up.” Men are told to defend themselves. And pity the man who dares to admit that he won’t go alone somewhere because it’s not safe. Men and women live in different worlds of expectations. Men are expected to take risks, to be brave. Women are told they have a right to be safe and feel justified in demanding that the world be made safe for them. Women may be right in their demands, but they are not demands society allows men to make.
Rob (Portland)
This sort of article makes it seem like women are oh-so-fragile and is totally patronizing. It is not feminist. It is regressive to feminism. You are a chauvinist.
CK (Rye)
You needn't disclose your gender, to say nothing of your name, online. If you have something to say, say it, and dissasociate yourself from that statement. Am I male or female? You have no idea.
Chickpea (California)
@CK Unfortunately, our representatives, public persons in entertainment and media , and professionals in most businesses, have no such option to keep their gender private by using a pseudonym.
LFA (.)
"Am I male or female? You have no idea." Unless you are very disciplined, if you post often enough, you will eventually give yourself away.
LFA (.)
"Am I male or female? You have no idea." Unless you are very disciplined, if you post often enough, you will eventually give yourself away. "... dissasociate yourself ..." I prefer anonymous usernames and no personal details, because it protects me from accusations of sexism and racism that some people resort to when they are too inept to debate 'mano a mano'.
MSPWEHO (West Hollywood, CA)
The digital world is not designed to keep anyone safe. What does gender have to do with it?
Reasonable Facsimile (Florida)
I had an advertisement in this article with a blond woman and a car standing alone on a parking garage roof. I thought it was a photo showing how vulnerable women can be on the internet by comparing it to being in a remote place alone. Instead, she was selling a 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE.
Shonuff (New York)
It's bad enough they post your address online for anyone to see but also your age. This really needs to stop because it is one thing for someone to have to pay for that information as part of a background investigation and another to have it out there. You can tell me all you want that I should not be "ashamed" of my age, but if you believe that women do not experience massive amounts of age discrimination, I also have a bridge I would like to sell you. I know that there are opportunities I have lost because this information is "out there." And not tell me that this is public records. It used to be you would have to send someone to city hall to look this stuff up. Just the other day, I googled myself just to see that MyLife has put my entire date of birth, and my last three addresses out there for free. And it shows up within the first three search results because my name is not something like Mary Jones although I am thinking of having my name legally changed to that. WHEN WILL THIS INSANITY BE AGAINST THE LAW.
Lisa (NYC)
@Shonuff If you believe something enough, or allow others to dictate what you should believe, so it will be. If you believe that, now that you are a certain age, you will be discriminated against, viewed as less desirable/capable/interesting... if you believe that others will now find you to be 'invisible'...if you believe that it's all so utterly 'hopeless'...so it will be. Whom do you think any one of us would rather be around...find more attractive...want to engage with.... a person who is all down on themselves, solely because of their age....or a person who thumbs their nose at society, and realizes and acts like they are wonderful, regardless of their age?
Fenella (UK)
@Lisa That's a wonderful idea, that everybody should just grow old gracefully and if they feel bad about age, they should just work on themselves. The reality is that your birth date is all important when it comes to the job market. Fortunately, I live in a country with strong privacy laws and nobody can get that date without my consent. I never give it. It's too valuable.
Shonuff (New York)
@Lisa my point is, no one will ever find out because they can look up my age before they ever get to meet me.
Mogwai (CT)
Don't use it. That is your freedom and if you got all your women friends to stop worshipping the patriarchy and voting for Republicans... I am sorry but if I did not feel safe, I would leave (I have left all social media, not for safety, but for the mindlessness). I have lived in hardcore ghettos next to crack houses, so yeah even as a dude, I get what feeling unsafe is all about. And leaving is the best plan.
Lady Edith (New York)
How do you propose I explain to my CEO that his head of online marketing isn't going to use social media anymore?
Eternal Tech (New Jersey)
@Lady Edith When posting on social media for your company, use the company's name and logo. When I see posts from most companies' social media accounts, this is how it is done. For example, the Wendy's restaurant chain on Twitter - https://twitter.com/Wendys - uses the restaurant's name and logo, not the personal name and picture of the employee who is producing the posts.
vandalfan (north idaho)
Why, this little lady just has to sit and have the vapors! My, pass me the hibiscus tea while I fan myself! We delicate flowers just don't have the constitution to read naughty things real people like men Tweet! Come on, really, women and men are equal, in danger, in opportunity, on the internet, in the library, in every way. Stop segregating and demeaning women as foolish, weak, and in need of protection. And get off Twitter.
JPE (Maine)
This piece is an interesting counterpoint to Charlie Savage's column today. Basically Savage seems to say that anything "published" on the internet by anyone (e.g. Julian Assange or Chelsea Manning) is journalism and therefore protected by the 1st Amendment. Not so fast, says Ms. Chang...perhaps without considering Savage's perspective. Ms. Chang, like Mr. Savage, is a journalist. Do we have a disagreement here among journalists?
LFA (.)
'... Savage seems to say that anything "published" on the internet by anyone (e.g. Julian Assange or Chelsea Manning) is journalism and therefore protected by the 1st Amendment.' That article says no such thing: Press Freedoms and the Case Against Julian Assange, Explained By Charlie Savage April 11, 2019 New York Times
LFA (.)
'... Savage seems to say that anything "published" on the internet by anyone (e.g. Julian Assange or Chelsea Manning) is journalism and therefore protected by the 1st Amendment.' That is not an opinion piece, and it says no such thing: Press Freedoms and the Case Against Julian Assange, Explained By Charlie Savage April 11, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/11/us/politics/assange-indictment.html
Wordsworth from Wadsworth (Mesa, Arizona)
I am truly sorry Ms. Emily Chang has been harassed online. If any of these Brotopia guys have broken laws, they should be prosecuted. I am in concord of mind with Ms. Chang about the need for tougher regulation of the internet like they have in Europe. However, Ms. Chang has left out a large element of this story. The main reason she has been harassed online is her fey, fetching presence on Bloomberg Television, either broadcast or streaming, more so than anything else she does online. Psycho fancies that. And Psycho wants that. And if he can't have that or is filled with envy, he will figuratively violate that. Now I am not certainly blaming Ms. Chang for that. She has every right to live and work as she wants, and be free of harassment. But if she did not have a high profile on Bloomberg, say she was only a print journalist, much of this would not happen. Ms. Chang is a consummate professional, highly intelligent, and very nice looking. But her presence on Bloomberg is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. A lot of jerks can't help themselves. I am not excusing their behavior in the least. But nor is it surprising. The cynic would say, "Emily, dress like a lighthouse keeper, always wear pants, and no makeup or jewelry, and see how that works." But I do not believe in that. Emily has every right to live as an independent woman and left alone.
LFA (.)
"The main reason she [Chang] has been harassed online is her fey, fetching presence on Bloomberg Television, either broadcast or streaming, more so than anything else she does online." So Chang is asking for it, right? "... say she was only a print journalist, much of this would not happen." You don't know what you are talking about. First, the Times publishes photos of many of its reporters. Second, Times reporters or columnists are sometimes criticized by name or role in the Times's comments -- even after moderation. Third, you have no idea what email is being sent to Times reporters that is not reported. Finally, print reporters have received death threats: Laid off HuffPost, BuzzFeed reporters flooded with death threats from trolls: report By Chris Mills Rodrigo 01/25/19 thehill dot com
MKV (Santa Barbara)
Although I appreciate this article's ideas on keeping the internet safe, I bristle at the subtitle "The digital world is not designed to keep women safe. New regulations should be." This statement is undermines the agency of adult women. Internet rules should be written to keep everyone safe from predators to the extent possible while still allowing all adults the freedom of movement and expression the Constitution promises.
Anthill Atoms (West Coast Usa)
Need to cease treating women as the weaker sex. We all know this is untrue.
Oceanviewer (Orange County, CA)
Obviously, in considering the fact that males are far more likely than females to harass, abuse, physically assault and even murder, we have to devise targeted programs to improve their socialization skills/reduce their inappropriate display of aggressive impulses. That’s not PC, it’s just the bald truth.
Bobby And McGee (UWS)
As soon as my mother in law tried to “friend” me I knew Social Media was nuts...I tried to create a Facebook world of strangers where I could be uninhibited...
Errol (Medford OR)
Emily Chang asserts: "digital privacy is a women’s issue." No, digital privacy is not a women's issue. It is an issue for everyone. No special treatment for women should be instituted, everyone is entitled to the same protections or benefits. Chang is asserting yet another claim for special treatment as has become the standard behavior of feminists.
Kentucky Female Doc (KY)
This is Kentucky Female Doc's daughter, Kentucky Female Security Programmer. The internet is a neutral tool. The fundamental protection the internet offers, or used to offer, is anonymity. When you forgo anonymity to document your life online, and leave it open to strangers, you open yourself up to...strangers doing strange things. The problems you describe center on social media sites, where you are encouraged to post all information about your life, to tie your online presence to your person specifically, so that the sites can harvest your information more effectively. Digital Privacy is a huge issue. It is not just a women's issue, it is everyone's issue. However, digital protection can only go so far: if you are posting your personal life out there, you are opening yourself up to personal comments from people you don't know. When you're online, no one can protect YOU better than YOU.
John Malister (New York)
I'm black and the amount of hate speech, bigotry, and racist rhetoric online is enormous. But I would never advocate for these kinds of laws. Free speech on the internet is important and if you want to participate in social media you need thick skin. At the end of the day these are mostly just mean words from strangers, something most adults should have learned to deal with back on the playground. I believe most women -- maybe not the author -- are tough enough that they don't need laws to protect them from mean people on the intent. The author needs to grow up.
LFA (.)
"I'm black and the amount of hate speech, bigotry, and racist rhetoric online is enormous." OK, but have you ever been targeted if you don't identify yourself as "black"?
LFA (.)
"I'm black and the amount of hate speech, bigotry, and racist rhetoric online is enormous." What happens if you don't identify yourself in any way?
David Gregory (Sunbelt)
Enjoy your Bloomberg Technology show and enjoyed your book. Good privacy laws and rules will work well for men and women. The internet is pretty much the Wild West unless users are proactive about security and privacy. Big Brother’s tele-screen from 1984 is your always on cellphone
Ed (Old Field, NY)
You make a case both for and against anonymity on the Internet. And everyone who read Orwell in high school remembers the memory hole.
Real Rocket Raccoon (Orion Arm)
A valid concern--- All girls should be given instruction by their parents on Internet extortion--- That said, Hollywood has been around a lot longer than the Internet, and Hollywood is not "designed to keep women safe." Sad that the effort on it doesn't seem to include any new "regulations." Let's work on that, huh? And I think a lot of other stuff that has been going on also is not "designed to keep women safe" tbh. How about a mideast travel ban? That might have something to do with women's safety. I seem to recall hearing something about stonings, female genital mutilation, honor killings, capital punishment by amputation or decapitation, and a lot of similar stuff--- that's either custom, or mandated by law--- from that area of the world.
LFA (.)
'... Hollywood is not "designed to keep women safe."' That makes no sense. Please clarify your point.
Kim (San Francisco)
In virtually all aspects of life, men are at more danger than women (men are 75% of those murdered, 92% of job fatalities, 75% of suicides, 70% of violent crime victims). And here is yet another article about the safety concerns of women, while those of men are ignored.
Chickpea (California)
@Kim Men account for 75% of the people murdered in this country. Men account for ***90%*** of murderers. The problem is not the victimization of men. The problem is about the pervasiveness of violence among men. Until we address that fact, expect no change.
Lisa (NYC)
@Chickpea ...the pervasiveness of violence among (most?) men?.... or rather, the fact that violent acts are most often perpetuated by males vs females? We need to stop painting men as a whole as 'the bad sex'.
Kim (San Francisco)
@Chickpea It doesn't matter who is doing the murdering... men are still more likely to be victims, and that _is_ the problem.
QQQQQQQ (Dallas)
I'm puzzled by the mention of the article about gender differences between Norwegian selfie posters. The article never states that Norwegian men post more selfies than women. In fact it states very plainly that across the board, women tend to post more selfies than men. Here are several quotes from the article: "Scholars have found that selfies are relatively more popular among females, and that they are more likely to take selfies than males (Qiu et al., 2015)." "In a recent study, Dhir et al. (2016b) found that female social media users are more likely to take personal and group selfies and to post personal selfies." "Sorokowski et al. (2015) found that females post more personal and group selfies compared to men." It does say that women have more concerns about privacy than men do, and that fears about privacy are more likely to influence how they engage with social media. However, the article also makes the point that "a recent study by Xie and Kang (2015) observed that social media users with high levels of privacy concern actually disclose more personal information" and that "Cao and Halloran (2014) observed that, compared to men, selfies taken by women were more personal in nature."
Lisa (NYC)
@QQQQQQQ Of course. This makes perfect sense. How many young (straight) guys do you see mooching it up for their camera phones vs young women? How many men have apps full of 'filters' for their selfies, cute little kawaii stickers, cat ears/noses, etc. to paste onto their selfies, etc? Many girls/women continue to be very confused/conflicted between how they perceive their own selves, how to portray their own selves, and then how others should consider them in response to all that.
Marshall Doris (Concord, CA)
Unfortunately, female safety, whether online or in real life, depends on male good will. Men are statistically stronger and more willing to be aggressive than women. The practical reality of that is that sometimes men, even by their mere presence, are perceived as dangerous. Civilized societies have customs that call for men to go out of their way to avoid acting aggressively towards women, but in practical terms these customs rely on male self-policing. Certainly, most of the time, these customs do their jobs, and women are able to feel safe. But even in civilized environments it doesn’t take too many outliers to burst that bubble of security for women. What worries me is that male privilege is, deservedly, declining, and economically we are moving into an era that favors female personality traits over male traits. How is that male aggression, now marginalized and made less salable, going to be reoriented? I don’t believe it will just magically go away. I don’t have answers, but theses are important questions that need to be addressed.
Another Human (Atlanta)
This is an issue for everyone, not just women. Just because men don't understand it doesn't mean it doesn't impact them.
Coles Lee (Charlottesville)
I absolutely agree the internet is dangerous for women. I think it's a lot more dangerous in terms of marketing though. The internet hates women. Porn. Weight loss ads to people getting eating disorder treatment. All the anti-aging products. Not to mention sites that are basically for women-haters. Physical safety is really not as concerning for me as my mind.
Entera (Santa Barbara)
Another article about how more elaborate protections are needed to shield women from predatory actions everywhere, including just walking safely down city streets to surfing the internet. How about we start talking about WHERE these dangers come from, and turning the focus in that direction? Let's start with the main culprit in all these instances -- males and/or aggressive masculine type domination that characterizes our economic models to our athletics. We all know guys who have evolved past this, but they're still often belittled and ridiculed by the more "manly" men for whom might is always right, and women are only there for the "score". Grow up, guys. How about some serious funding for studies and PROGRAMS in schools, business and the ultimate male bastion, the military, in the reality of Toxic Masculinity ?
Phong (Le)
Another article that implies women have no agency. They are delicate creatures. Women must be protected. Everyone must give up their freedom for the protection of women, because women are too weak to protect themselves.
Alice's Restaurant (PB San Diego)
"Women need special protection"--Isn't that a bit old-fashioned? What happened to the equality of Modernity liberation?
Abruptly Biff (Canada)
I design websites for not-for-profit organizations, primarily focused on older age groups run by women. Do you think I can get them to understand that posting anything personal to the site, including names, email addresses and phone numbers, is going out to the entire world - good and bad? I hear "Oh well, we will just put it in the newsletter" and then they promptly ask me to post the newsletter. When I show them the stats on the site and that we are getting hits from Nigeria and Russia and other countries that would normally have no interest in their organization, they still don't get it. What to do to educate everyone, including women, to maintain their privacy in this digital age?
LFA (.)
"... we are getting hits from Nigeria and Russia and other countries that would normally have no interest in their organization ..." Could you be more specific about what you mean by "hits"? Are those hacking attempts or site visits? (I'm assuming you have the tools to distinguish the two.)
drollere (sebastopol)
back in the 90's, the wild west days, i signed into an AOL chat room (some will remember what those were for) with a female sounding russian appearing name. and i learned quickly, as the touts and solicitations for sex erupted across my computer screen, a tiny bit of what it's like to be a woman online. i also once found myself in a conversation with an entity, self described as a pre teen with emotional difficulties, trying to encourage her to chin up ... though, later, i suspected it was a burly law enforcement officer trawling for sex predators. that said ... emily: shame on you. elders unfamiliar with online scams? children unfamiliar with online playmates? you feminize the general risks of online communications. why not just say -- the digital world is not designed to keep ethnic chinese safe? men have been stalked by murderous ex wives, employers by vindictive ex employees; children have been manipulated by their divorced parents, shamed by schoolyard bully gangs. there is so much badness out there that gender categories can't do it justice. why intrude gender politics into the dynamics and hazards of a technology so unfamiliar and sham capable that anyone, in the right circumstances, can become a toy, a victim, a target? step it up. so long as you're just a woman, you're not quite yet a human being.
LFA (.)
"... Jennifer Lawrence, the actress whose nude photos were stolen from her iCloud account in 2014 and made public ..." Lawrence's account was hacked after her credentials were stolen in phishing scheme. And the hackers were sentenced to prison. "... , would have a case against Apple if a similar incident occurred after the law goes into effect next year." How was Apple responsible? The author doesn't say.
Oceanviewer (Orange County, CA)
Is the problem of male online harassment of females due to “toxic masculinity,” whatever that is, a mostly biologically-based “testosterone poisoning,” social conditioning plus “testosterone poisoning,” or what? Identifying the problem is a first step towards prevention, starting with targeted programs beginning at the kindergarten level and progressing through college.
Patty O (deltona)
Honestly, Facebook and Twitter are the least of my worries. I can make my page private, I can make it unsearchable through google. And I can block people. What actually scares me is the data collection sites like Spokeo, Been Verified, and Truthfinder. I searched my name in those and found they had my date of birth, phone number, my address (current and previous), my mother's address and phone number, my brother's address and phone number and my son's address and phone number. All under one search. It's extremely time consuming to remove your information from those sites and it's impossible to keep it that way. I have been doxed by men using those sites. Some crazy guy got mad at my son, doxed him and then told him he was going to come to our home and rape me and kill us both. I reported it to the police, but they did absolutely nothing. It's very scary to realize how easily some nut job can find you. And it's terrifying when you realize the police can do nothing, except to clean up the mess after some internet crazy follows through on his threat.
Linda S (Washington)
Facebook needs to allow aliases or nicknames. In my only foray into Facebook when I was over 60, I was kicked off for using an alias. I asked a volunteer teenager at my library to show me how to sign up and expressed my concern about online harassment and personal safety due to my easily identifiable name in my small community. The kid said I could put a toe in the water with an alias and change it later. I primarily wanted to participate in conversations on a local private forum and be able to get news about my community and recommendations for various home services. I was only on a week when a discussion came up, right after the travel ban, about ICE agents being spotted near my community. I engaged in a discussion pushing back on some men calling people “illegals” who were undocumented. One fellow didn’t like my view that people are not “illegal people”, they’re just undocumented. He said “your profile looks fake” (because I used an alias). When I tried to sign in the next day, I was blocked. I tried at least five times, explaining my situation, to be reinstated, but could never get a real person to respond to me. I’m certain the fellow “reported” me, and then the computer algorithms rejected me because my ID didn’t reflect my alias. I even reached out to the EFF which had been appealing to FB in recent years to allow transgender and some LGBTQ people to have aliases for their safety, particularly in foreign countries. They were sympathetic, but FB was not.
Mist (NYC)
@Linda S. Actually, I wonder if it might be better to require only one’s legal name online, instead of “user names”. At least then, the scum that threaten and harass online can be held accountable for their actions. And yes, I get the irony of the fact that I use a concealing name. I have experienced viciousness online even under this name, I prefer to keep my real name to myself.
J Clark (Toledo Ohio)
Lol read the comments read them carefully and then you’ll begin to understand why this country is not ready for a female president.
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
The Times focus on privacy and the internet is simply decades too late. Where was the Times years ago, when it was clear where the internet love affair (a.k.a. corporations hiring ad agencies to convince people the internet was an inherent force for good and progress) would lead, at least to any non-self-serving (i.e. tech corporation) interest and any non-addicted individual? As with all addictions, getting the monkey off your back is very hard. I expect it will take something major, such as a large chunk of our electric grid going down or China commandeering an F-35 through embedded code in all the chips we depend on them for, before we, as a society, even begin to take the issue of the internet's inherent insecurity seriously. While people scream about the government's limited data collection, they happily give up much more information to corporations, which have absolutely no accountability to our people. Recently Best Buy wanted my fingerprint to buy a printer. I said, "Not if you want my money!" Wells Fargo wanted prints to cash a check. I said, you want me picketing? Say no! And mean it, even at a price!! Recently the Times ran a column from one of their people who claimed she was proud of her gadget addiction. To quote our Entertainer-In-Chief, "Sad!" None of the Presidential candidates is taking the underlying issue seriously, a few going as "far" as merely suggesting "laws" that are effectively unenforceable or which can be subsumed as a cost of doing business.
LFA (.)
'Recently Best Buy wanted my fingerprint to buy a printer. I said, "Not if you want my money!"' After you refused, what happened?
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
@LFA They backed off. The sad part was that the 20 and 30 somethings who worked there simply accept such and were astounded when I said NO and suggested that they do the same in life. I am old. It is their world, and I encouraged them to make their world, taking to the streets, and not passively accept what they see and are told. I would like to think that I at least planted an idea.
Gofry (Columbus, OH)
Must everything be a "women's issue" these days? The internet is sketchy, deal with it.
mrpisces (Loui)
The Internet today is built around making money. According to this author, women haven't figured that out yet.
This article boggles the mind, Women need special laws because they don't use common sense when sharing their info on social media? I understand the expectations of gen millennial to live in a perfect world (I should know I have 4 Children 20-29 3 of them Female) But does the author realize that in the real world violent crime has dropped dramatically? for example in 1992 there were 757.8 violent crimes per 100k in that Homicide was 9.3 Rape 42.8 and in 2016 total violent crime was down to 386.3 per 100k with homicide 5.3 and Rape 29.6 (keep in mind the definition of rape was expanded in 2013) and of course rape goes under reported but it did back in 1992 (and probably more so then today's female empowered world), If your not happy with the state of the Internet and or social media go build one you like there is absolutely no one standing in your way, complaining about it will lead to regulation and draconian laws to stop you from "feeling uncomfortable" your hatred of men oozes throughout your article, get over it and create something that benefits you and your like minded users of social media
Elsie (Brooklyn)
The comments here are depressing. Just as a reminder of the kind of abuse women get, I am posting the letters that female sportscasters regularly get - as read by men: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tU-D-m2JY8 Men simply have no idea. And for men to pretend that somehow they too are equally victimized is delusional. Perhaps the reason men feel it's "no big deal" to threaten to kill and rape a woman is because men think killing and raping is no big deal. It's just what men do and women should "get over it." Men need to get over the fact that they are somehow victims of the Internet, a system that was designed by and for men. In case anyone has forgotten, Zuckerburg created FB to stalk his ex-girlfriend. And then the idea was so popular, he became a billionaire. Women would do well to remember this, even if men want to downplay its importance.
John B (Midwest)
@Elsie "Perhaps the reason men feel it's "no big deal" to threaten to kill and rape a woman is because men think killing and raping is no big deal." Did you read what you wrote before you hit the submit button? I'm truly sorry that that is your opinion of men and its depressing to think that there are those who actually think like that. I can only surmise that you must have known quite a few awful men in your life to lead you to that belief. Your comment is truly offensive and does nothing to move the conversation in a constructive direction.
LFA (.)
"... Jennifer Lawrence, the actress whose nude photos were stolen from her iCloud account in 2014 and made public ..." Lawrence's account was hacked after her credentials were stolen in a phishing scheme. And the hackers were sentenced to prison. "... , would have a case against Apple if a similar incident occurred after the law goes into effect next year." The author doesn't say how Apple was responsible, but automatic iCloud uploads are enabled by default. Novice Apple users might not realize that what they have on their Apple Mac or iPhone is being automatically uploaded to iCloud. Users have to explicitly disable iCloud service.
LFA (.)
"... Jennifer Lawrence, the actress whose nude photos were stolen from her iCloud account in 2014 and made public, would have a case against Apple if a similar incident occurred after the law goes into effect next year." It's not clear whether Lawrence intentionally uploaded those photos, but Apple could be blamed for enabling iCloud uploading by default. I recently assisted an Apple Mac user who was concerned about info on the Mac being automatically uploaded to iCloud. I was appalled to discover that automatic uploading to iCloud is enabled by default. Apple Mac users have to explicitly disable iCloud service. The same appears to be true for Apple iPhone users.
Eternal Tech (New Jersey)
@LFA As with most things in life, there are advantages and disadvantages. If Apple were not to have iCloud sync by default, then when a hard drive crashed or an iPhone was lost, causing the loss of all photos and videos, then many users would complain about this.
Prof. Pizda Balanitis (The Balanitis Research Foundation)
No way will you citizens of the U.S.A. or world regain your privacy. Too much money is to be made on your 'backs' and 'fronts'. Best to avoid those opportunistic companies or become a pseudobeing while using their "services". We of the Balanitis Research Commune and Foundation protect ourselves and our families from having our privacy invaded by using our advanced identity and operational cloaking technologies. To the outside world od data mining and sakes we do not exist.
Prof. Pizda Balanitis (The Balanitis Research Foundation)
A.I., like everything else, is a neutral tool. How and by whom is is utilized determines if it is evil or good. Just my opinion.
LFA (.)
"Norwegian women post fewer selfies than Norwegian men [according to a linked survey]." That survey is severely flawed. The participants were self-selected: "A large self-selected sample of online social media users based in Norway was recruited ..." Further, participants had to report personal information, namely their sex and age. People who consider their sex and age to be private information would not have participated. And females were more likely to complete the survey than males: "The web-survey was administered to 3,763 Norwegian social media users, ranging from 13 to 50 years, with a preponderance of women (n = 2,509, 66.7%)." BTW, 13-year-olds are not adults, so the author has misrepresented the results by referring to "women" and "men".
Elizabeth (Los Angeles/Bay Area)
There is danger on the Internet, and danger associated with lack of privacy, for every vulnerable group: women, children , POC, trans people....the list could go on. Dark alleys are sadly similar. This does not make Internet privacy or badly lit streets a women's issues. They are safety issues, and while we can keep asking to make the Web, and the streets, safer, what we need to address most are the behaviors that make these environments dangerous.
Aaron (Free Speech)
I am adamantly opposed to hate or threatening speech. BUT — I’m not sure why the fallback seems to always be censorship? Criminalizing action can make sense, but criminalizing speech seems far worse than allowing (and ignoring) it. Why is it that the “progressive” voices always want to criminalize and silence speech they don’t like? Couldn’t people just choose to log off? Or not use a service they don’t like? Or not voluntarily post (and make accessible) tons of personal information on the web? All of those seem to me to be better steps to try before imposing censorship.
Mindy (San Jose)
Often getting us to log off is exactly what harassers want. When someone harasses me online they're telling me "You don't belong here." If we respond to the problem of harassment by leaving spaces where we are harassed, we haven't solved the problem, we've simply made life easier for harassers. We must make exceptions to free speech when it comes to speech that is intended to police or harm others. But if you've got a solution that doesn't require me to silence myself or others, I'm all ears.
shreir (us)
"keep women safe" For a moment there I thought I was reading a text from the old Patriarchy. Women spent decades trying to get into combat units and now we are told they need protecting. War, I am told, is even more dangerous than the internet. I suppose the Marines could add extra manpower to "keep women safe" until war can be safely regulated.
Mist (NYC)
@shreir. Yes, and those women in the military have experienced horrifying incidents of rape and abuse carried out by their commanders and so-called “comrades in arms”. The problem is not that women are “weak”, but that men are out of control.
LFA (.)
The sexism of this OpEd destroys its credibility. I can't see any example that wouldn't be of equal concern to men. And here is an example that has nothing to do with the internet -- namely the easy accessibility of voter registration records: In my state, voters can state their political party when they register to vote. The problem is that anyone can get a list of voters who have registered for a particular political party. That list includes their name and address. I have had people with voter lists knock on my door to campaign for a candidate. I don't answer, and in one case the police were called because the campaigners were trespassing. That discourages voter registration and participation in party-specific primary elections, because voters may decide to not register or to register as independents even when they are not. In more extreme cases, people have been targeted for political violence based on voter lists. (e.g. during the 2002 riots in Gujarat, India)
EXNY (Massachusetts)
Even if the law gives an individual the right to request that a company delete all information it has stored about that individual, what proof does the individual receive that the deletion occurred? How does the company prove that the deletion has happened?
Gina B (North Carolina)
If not forced at work to engage online for my job, I would not be online at all. Being tied to the phone today is not unlike the long curling yet short phone chord we had always complained about. How can it be the thing everyone needs today?
MK (New York, New York)
The use of the fact that Norwegian women post less selfies than men as evidence for something is a perfect illustration of the kind of logic-free culture that progressive activism has adopted. In my experience on social media, something like 70 percent of selfie posters are female, and most people would probably say it's a stereotypically female behaviors on social media. So one specifically picked small country where women post less selfies than men is somehow illustrative of something? What exactly? Is Maybe Norwegians are just not as vain as other people? What would happen to the authors point if presented with 10 countries where women post more selfies than men?
Tuvw Xyz (Evanston, Illinois)
Ms. Chang describes an irresistible lure of electronic media and apps, despite all the unpleasantness of harassment and one's exposure to snooping by various agencies that is associated with their use. One reaps, what one saws ...
Grover (Kentucky)
There’s a simple solution to privacy invasion - stop using Facebook, Twitter, and all other apps that don’t guarantee data protection and privacy. As long as people continue to open themselves to unscrupulous companies such as these, they will continue to be exploited.
Covert (Houston tx)
I used to use my name in online communications. Then someone found my address. Now without using my name, people often don’t know if I am a woman or a man, and that is far safer. The world is just less safe for women, and that is at least as true online. The harassment, threats, etc. that women receive online are sometimes followed by actual physical violence. Just as the threats toward a woman in a bar or workplace are sometimes followed by violence. Many of us worked hard for many years, to make public places safer for women. It is a shame that we will now have to do the same with the internet. I had indulged myself in the thought that my tech friends were better than this. Well, I won’t make that mistake again.
David Anderson (Chicago)
When people interact with a potential danger, why can't they govern themselves accordingly, instead of relying on the government to protect them? I think that we are all better off if we look after ourselves.
Chickpea (California)
@David Anderson When people act in public spaces why can they refrain from threatening others? Why are women always expected to adapt their behavior to accommodate the behavior of violent men?
Lily (New Hampshire)
Thought experiment: Put yourself in my shoes? When I looked after myself my ex tried to kill me. What do you suggest...? I need to be able to hide to be safe. It is impossible. So I’m never safe. No one should have to live in constant fear in this country, but I am not the only one.
LS (Maine)
While not minimizing the real threats to women--I am female--I think this all applies to men as well. The internet is not benign. Personally, I don't use social media at all, have a flip phone, don't use Uber, etc etc. I know I'm lucky to be able to do without these services, but.... I think big tech will pay attention when people boycott their products.
jynx_infinity (Reality (unlike certain leaders))
@LS I really like that your comment presents an alternative world where we can still exist and not be tuned in and turned on 24/7. Frankly, that's exhausting and I think part of our learning to live with tech is having it adapt to us, not the other way around. Privacy is just one very important aspect of that.
Upton (Bronx)
@LS I couldn't agree more. But women are the current, and largest, victim class now. Once we've done reparations for blacks, obviously women will be next in line.
Lisa (NYC)
@LS Indeed. Men have their own threats to deal with, that we women do not, or certainly much less so. Men are more likely to be victims of general 'assault' or robbery. Men also have to deal with the constant potential threat of certain other 'meathead' men who are simply looking for another man to pick a fight with...to demonstrate to others what a 'tough guy' he is. Frankly, this female is so over all this meetoo and similar talk, of how awful it is to be female (or, women=good, men=bad). 'Privacy' is not just a women's issue.
Caro (Denver)
The harassment that women experience online is a mirror of the challenges we face out in public. Neither are taken seriously by men, the aggressors. I hope that digital threats can be taken as seriously as physical ones. The first step towards violence is thinking and articulating it.
Michael (Montreal)
@Caro Women never harass other women, or pick fights or anything else that might be construed as threatening or demeaning.
Rebecca (Maine)
@Michael Thank you for explaining that to us, we would never known that other women can be mean too, if you hadn't told us so. We're much obliged. All The Women.
Mystery Lits (somewhere)
@Caro Tell me again about freedom of speech.... oh... wait. Freedom for thee but not for me right?
Richard (Memphis, TN)
The answer is to provide more safeguards for all users of the internet. This could mean regulations or laws or it could mean corporate policies. These actions should be intended to protect all users, regardless of gender. To create a separate set of protections for women would be a horrible idea.
Rose Liz (PA)
Many commenters seem to think there is a clear line between online and offline experience and activities. However, online harassment and threats often lead to offline aggression. Gamergate, of course. Doxxing of Roberta Lange. Organized campaigns to re-write Wikipedia pages to remove feminist history. Organized campaigns to get women fired for thought crimes.
Dan (Rochester)
Zuck's first iteration of FB was social commentary on women's faces. Tweeks don't fix design flaws.
Lily (New Hampshire)
Excellent point. The intension of a founder is relevant, I agree. And character* matters and leaves an indelible mark on the greater world. Preet’s excellent book discusses this in depth. Those of us living in constant fear of an ex who has tried to kill us before have no choice but to live in very convoluted, anxious-making ways if we want to stay connected to loved ones and dearest friends who are our life lines. Privacy is essential to feeling any degree of safety for us, and it’s almost impossible to achieve. I hope one day those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about value privacy to the extent that we can galvanize and insist on it. So that it isn’t only something billionaires** can afford... *Look in the WH. **Zuck refused to mention any personal info, not even his hotel, before the Senate, even though he built the Surveillance Economy, but even Bezos had his privacy breeched when he let down his guard. ::cough cough::
Upton (Bronx)
Sort of obvious, isn't it? Why would any sane person post the personal information described in the beginning of this article? And the internet and "social" media are not one and the same. It's strange indeed that millenials, although absolutely obsessed with being kept safe, indulge in such absurd behavior as gorging on social media, Tinder, binge drinking, marijuana (it's an herb, like), and so on. Use common sense.
Sage (Santa Cruz)
To anyone paying attention, nearly all of this was glaringly obvious 10 or even 15 years ago: -That crass denial of the need for regulation, even minimal regulation, was fast-turning the internet to a wide open Oklahoma land rush for overwhelmingly male-dominated and no-holds-barred invasion, intimidation, exploitation and domination by the rudest, crudest and least scrupulous. -That almost nobody wanted to acknowledge this, let alone do anything about it, and most men (and women) were all too ready to look the other way for years. -That the advent of "social media," zealously engineered to addict, deceive and massively plunder the privacy of women and men, especially teens, rapidly multiplied the horrible risks and actual damages. After years of abject silence, to now place principal blame on the male gender, while ignoring how this has been making fast billionaires out of a few clever, opportunistic men (and even fewer similarly oriented women), is of doubtful benefit. Putting a few more females into the locomotives of such scam-oriented gravy trains, and helping some advance to top ranks of the see-nothing do-nothing class of politicians would also be of dubious value. Until head-down, screen-swiping, sleepwalking masses -and more especially derelict and willfully ignorant technocratic elites- wake up and finally act decisively to reclaim their public civic sphere, politically correct yet practically ineffective "feminism" seems destined to continue going nowhere.
Glenn Thomas (Edison, NJ)
Please don't be so naive! I started out on Myspace and moved on to Facebook when it gained more popularity. I am a man and from the beginning, I recognized the potential for different kinds of abuse that giving out personal information might expose me to. But I saw people people, mostly women as far as I could tell, blabbing about all kinds of things and publishing photos as well! The advice is no secret: "Look before you leap." and "Think!".
Eduard C Hanganu (Evansville, IN)
So, again the "victim"? Maybe women should be restricted from the Internet just like children are? If they are so helpless and need so much protection, maybe the price involved in making the Internet woman-friendly is too high and it is not worth it?
Rebecca (Maine)
@Eduard C Hanganu Maybe men should be restricted from public places until they show they can behave and restrain themselves. They do, after all, commit the most violence and harassment. The cost of having places man-friendly is too high and it is not worth it.
Mist (NYC)
@Rebecca. Thank you Rebecca! I’ve always thought the Middle Eastern traditions of keeping women locked up at home to “protect” them from men was backwards. It’s like having a large dog that likes to bite kids and passing a law that kids have to stay inside while the vicious dog run free.
Colenso (Cairns)
Do the facts matter? Or in the era of Trump, can we just choose to believe what suits us, what fits our agenda, what stokes our outrage, and ignore the rest? The data shows that in the USA today most murder victims continue to be male, as they have always been since records were first kept. They are also young. They are also black. Or brown – Mexican American; or their forebears are from Central America. Yes, many of the victims are gang members or associated with gangs. Many are not. If we don't blame victims, then their circumstances ought to be irrelevant, right? Globally, not just in the USA, most murder victims (male and female) are poor or very poor and live in the worst neighbourhoods. When they're murdered, the police often do very little to solve the crime. Rarely, are the perps brought to justice. Often the cops arrest the wrong suspects. In the USA, as everyone surely knows by now, most murderers are also male, young, and black or brown. Most stranger or street murders in the USA are carried out by guns, especially by semi-automatic pistols with high capacity magazines. Relatively, very few middle class or upper-middle class, highly educated, white females are murdered by strangers, killed or injured in combat, killed or injured in their occupation, eg police or fire service. Many young working-class men are killed or badly injured on building sites where few women venture. It's always been more hazardous being male than female.
Rachel (Cali)
@Colenso So let's make it safer for everyone? Males deserve to feel safe as well. Not doing anything because women suggest it is just silly. We want everyone to feel safe.
Maria (Brooklyn, NY)
This article is incredibly true and timely to me personally. I am a very light user of social media- but I went down the rabbit hole on a twitter thread about an area of interest/expertise- and eventually put down my guard about engaging in public debate w/strangers and made respectful but disagreeing/apparently provocative counterpoints to the all male discussion. I was not in any way prepared for the sheer energy and persistence of the offended OP and his supporters (a few angry men), who got personal and manipulative right away. Then he kept coming after me-looked me up etc. (w/ absolutely gender-based hate/harassment). I literally deactivated my account in horror- and felt that my privacy had been violated. I could have defended my position bu did not have the time, stomach or sense of safety to engage with this hateful misogynist. Never again.
OneView (Boston)
Men are surrounded by violence from the day their socialization begins. It's amusing that women never recognize that men are by far and away the greater victims of violence in society. And, admittedly, the greater perpetrators. BUT the vast majority of men are victims and adjust and modify their behaviors to stay safe. When women enter this world of male experience, they are shocked, shocked to find themselves treated as equals...
Lisa (CA)
@OneView So you're saying that women must accept and conform to this "violence"? How about we have more women in power, and that way females can change the dynamics in organizations and society to bring some much needed balance and sanity to the world.
Rachel (Cali)
Maybe if you let us in and stop dismissing our concerns, the male experience could be more positive and inclusive?
OneView (Boston)
@Lisa Why do you think women haven't been part of the solution so far? They are as much complicit in the violence because they are human. The entire construct of nature is built around competition and violence. Men (I would argue human beings) have worked diligently to minimize and control this competition; to extract the benefits while minimizing the costs. And there are benefits. It's so easy to say "just put the women in charge and 2 millions years of evolution can be fixed"; I am just a bit skeptical. So, in answer, yes, we have to accept a level of danger in our lives because our personal safety may very well put someone else in danger; it may violate the rights of the innocent who are caught in your safety net. Life isn't fair. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something.
Flâneuse (Portland, OR)
The blind disregard for women's privacy outlined in this article makes me mad. Slightly off-topic regarding WhatsApp, I don't use it because I don't want Facebook to "complete the circle" between my phone number and my e-mail address*, and I don't want the app rummaging through my phone**. But WhatsApp is used by millions around the world. I'm always telling lodging hosts, taxi drivers and international volunteer colleagues that they have to contact me in other ways. Fortunately, I'm able to travel with a good data plan for SMS & voice. But for non-affluent, sometimes technically naive users in many countries, WhatsApp is a permanent, unavoidable invasion of privacy. * If FB gets ahold of your phone number it will first ask for confirmation of the number to be sent from that phone. (Nevertheless, I'm probably naive in thinking that they don't have my phone number in their database.) ** Maybe the current focus on privacy will help us non-iOS/Android developers understand what kinds of data mining is going on with our phones by apps.
Flâneuse (Portland, OR)
@Flâneuse I should have said "WhatsApp is used by **billions** around the world"
Joel (Oregon)
If you insist on shackling your online presence to your real world identity don't be surprised when real world problems follow you onto the internet. I've been using the internet since the 1990s, the greatest thing about it has always been the ability to assume a completely different persona, or to be anonymous. For a long time this was really common in internet communities, and it still is in most of the wider web, outside the walled gardens of Facebook et al. This was a side effect of some common sense practices from that era of the internet, namely: don't upload personal information to the internet. The internet is not a safe space, nor is it a private space. The internet was designed to share information. If you have any information you don't want shared with potentially billions of people then don't upload it, because that's what it's designed to do. Yet so many people thoughtlessly share their entire identity through the internet. Of course, abandoning your real world identity can have draw backs, if, say, you're an influential famous person and typically rely on your own assumed authority or your followers to get your way. Sites like Facebook let famous people transfer their real world power into online power, but on most of the internet they have no power at all. They're just another user. Not special, not any different. Just as vulnerable as anyone else, just as responsible for their own safety. No mob of supporters or fans to shield them and pamper them.
Helina (Lala Land)
I think for most of us, it comes down to the choices we make online. With very little thought, we have moved the most important aspects of our lives on to the net. Narcissists set the tone and the rest of us blindly followed. It's neither logical or beneficial to upload our private lives online and yet, we are all doing that. When I reported my stalker to the police, they simply told me to get offline. The first police officer that I had spoken to even suggested that it was my fault for having a profile picture on Twitter. It didn't matter that the picture was professional in appearance and was intended for business development. I was quite upset with his simplicity, and truly hurt that I had to abandon my entrepreneurial aspirations, but getting offline benefited me in the end. I loved following news sites on Twitter and just sharing and commenting on funny memes, stories, but a lot of me was starting to live online. Today, I don't have a smartphone, a Facebook account, Twitter or even Linkedin. On the train to work and back, I see people swiping left right and center like zombies, watching movies, playing video games. It's crazy what we have turned into. I was upset with the police for telling me to get offline rather than doing their job. I thought their claim that "the laws haven't caught up wit the crimes yet" lazy. I thought it was my right to stay on the net. I thought I needed the net. As it turns out, I don't. Long live face-to-face connections.
Chickpea (California)
Golda Meir, when confronted with the problem of rape in her country, was advised to impose a curfew on women. To which she famously replied: Men are committing the rapes. Let them be put under curfew.”
PMD (Arlington VA)
You may change your personal information many times, but it’s likely your friends’ apps, containing your personal contact information, are raided without their knowledge. Resorting to a flip phone will only go so far. Many programs quickly composite new data and match with retrieved data. Privacy will become a luxury good.
PH Wilson (New York, NY)
There is so much wrong here, and I fear it will work only to set back the cause of digital privacy by trying to unnecessarily inject some culture war angle that doesn't belong. Women, on average, use more privacy protections than men. That does not somehow make digital privacy a "women's issue." Women also, on average, obey speed limits more than men--does that make driving a "women's issue" and traffic laws something that need to be written specifically with gender differences in mind? Men are, on average, more reckless than women across many behaviors.That fact alone does not transform a universal issue into a "feminist issue." What are the examples--you need to share your phone number to text? You also need to share your phone number to talk. Does that make it the gender-issue of our times? A woman's first name was revealed during a shared Lyft ride? First names are also shouted out at Starbucks--should people boycott the chain until that policy is changed? And Europe's so-called "right to be forgotten" isn't about privacy. It is about governments trumping the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press to suppress truthful, accurate statements because the subject doesn't like them. The case started because a lawyer didn't want clients to know his past business had gone bankrupt. That hardly seems a civil rights issue, and many potential clients probably would want to known that. This piece trivializes privacy by imagining some intersectionality that doesn't exist.
Rose Liz (PA)
@PH Wilson Male-pattern violence is an epidemic, and women are disproportionately affected by it. This is a safety concern in which sex is relevant. It would be interesting to take the example of driving and see how it might in fact be a "women's issue"—steps women take to be safe when driving alone, for example? Taking longer routes, purchasing technology and alarms, debating whether to park in an unattended lot? As far as the Lyft/Starbucks comparison goes, it's moot: anyone can use a fake name at Starbucks (and folksy as this seems, Starbucks has even encouraged this to get customers to put photos on line, thereby doing free advertising). However, as far as I know with a ride sharing service, using one's credit card, it would be more difficult—perhaps impossible—to use a fake name. Maybe it would be good to have a "screenname" for Lyft—would you be in favor of that? Do you really want to live in a society where women are tracked down at work by strangers who get their first name in a taxi and then search for their contact info at their workplace? If the man wanted to be in contact with the woman, why not ask her directly? Who benefits by this possibility of getting a tiny bit of information and being able to locate a stranger? Why defend it? why object to taking steps to guard against it? What would you lose if men were unable to do this?
MK (New York, New York)
@Rose Liz As many people have commented, women are not disproportionately affected by male pattern violence. The overwhelming majority of victims of violent crime as well as war are men. All of this data is very easy to find on google, so I don't understand how people can keep repeating this lie that violence disproportionate effects women. As a man, I endured violent bullying in middle school and high school in plain sight of teachers in ways that would have never been tolerated if the victim was female. In general society tolerates violence among men because men are presumed to be able to defend themselves and not being able to do so is seen as an individual failing, and this is just as wrong for men as it is for women. I'm generally sympathetic to feminism and gender equality but this complete disconnection from verifiable facts is getting really grating.
Linda S (Washington)
@PH Wilson I disagree. And IMO, you seem clueless about what life is like for women on this planet in regard to safety and privacy.
r mackinnon (concord, ma)
Recently, while housebound after surgery, I logged onto my rarely used FB (I never post) and started looking up old friends and paramours on-line to see what they have done with themselves. Information on pretty much everyone was available, to varying degrees, on FB and other sites. What floored me more than the several obits (so sad) or the news of the then-obnoxious kid from grade school friend who became a zillionaire, was a classmate from college and his spouse. They post EVERYTHING, EVERY DAY on FB: when they are away (I am sure a burglar would like that info); pix of them posing in their exercise clothes (please spare us that); reams of pix of the grown children (replete with identifying info as to domicile and workplace); reams of pix and videos of adorable grandkids. Nothing appears to be locked down. (I am not a 'friend'). I guess the parents are free to overshare with anyone all the details, exaggerated and otherwise, of their curated life, but don't the kids and grandkids have any rights to privacy?
ALB (Maryland)
It is a continuous source of wonder to me that women -- and men -- use social media like Facebook, Instagram, etc. to display all sorts of the most private aspects of their lives and the lives of their families and friends, despite the known fact that the information they put out there isn't kept safe or private. Then they rant and rave when the utterly predictable happens, i.e., when all their private stuff is stolen and they become victimized by internet trolls and thieves. It is a continuous source of disgust to me that our lawmakers have basically failed to force these social media entities to provide the most basic protections for the privacy of their users. And it is a continuous source of frustration for me that we have HIPAA laws that impose endless restrictions on health care providers -- doctors, pharmacists, hospitals, etc. -- in terms of access ti patient health information, to the point where we're all drowning in forms and the slightest error means that critical health information about a patient can't get relayed to the right health care provider.
Mark F (Ottawa)
The Pew study you cite states that 8% of women reported receiving sexual harassment online, 4% of men reported similar. The study also found that 44% men received any form of harassment, compared to 37% of women. 12% of men had received physical threats online, as compared to 8% of women. The only other area where women slightly outnumber men is in reported online stalking, 8% of women compared to 6% of men. Every other area they studied, from sustained harassment to purposeful embarrassment found men received more harassment. The information is on the second page of the online version of the study.
John Smythe (Southland)
@Mark F A distinction needs to be made between what people claim and the reality. Take for instance the claim more women than men report online stalking. I was reported for online stalking by a girl I knew however it was all in her head. She thought we were destined to marry, I had wanted nothing beyond platonic and cut off contact once I realised couldn't convince her. When she finally comprehended I would not relent she reported me to the police for stalking. Thankfully police seemed to grasp I was the victim - she continued to seek contact with me, yet she would have claimed to be the victim of cyberstalking. Like the old saying goes there's lies and then there's stats. One has to be very very careful with them!
JustJeff (Maryland)
@Mark F You comments suggest you don't think that this is a serious issue for women. I think an appropriate follow-up would be: What percentage of women have had a real-world 'contact' with the person who had just been cyber-bullying them? Yes, men are bullied online, but the vast majority of it stops there. There is no real-world adjunct to the harassment. I would doubt that women are let off that easily. There is way too much trash out there who think that if they can get away with it online, they can get away with it physically as well. I'm a guy, but I grew up around a lot of women. The fear they have when just walking down a street, even in full daylight and in a familiar neighborhood, is palpable. They can never know if some guy who walked past them is "just walking" or is stalking. We men don't generally have to put up with that. Women experienced this kind of stuff even before there was an internet. With the near total collapse of privacy due to data collection and sharing, it's easier and more pervasive now. It's easy to say "just ignore it" as I've heard many of my gender comment to women. I have considerable concerns over privacy. I too use only a flip phone because it's effectively invisible, use only aliases for posts, and I never share personal information online. But at least I know that most people aren't going to mess with me because I'm male. Women typically don't get that choice.
Upton (Bronx)
@John Smythe Congratulations! It seems like you avoided a marriage from hell! Best of luck on the right one!
Captain Roger (Phuket (US expat))
IMHO Missing from this article is the interconnected nature of data collection. You dropped Facebook over privacy concerns. Every time you click on a link that starts with m.facebook you just opened the door for Facebook to invade your phone. Your service vendor is probably directing you to a chat room that is collecting your data. Although I can appreciate the author's belief that women can add a unique perspective I suggest some brilliant computer science types might be useful. This is not going to get fixed by the vendors. Their entire business model is based on monetizing your privacy. IMHO the elegant solution is to simply require that they remit 80% of the revenue generated by selling your data to you.
edv961 (CO)
Where are the sharing apps that are made and run by women? If they won't change anything, why not build our own world? Besides reading the news, the only place where I spend any time online is Ravelry because it feels private and safe.
Rose Liz (PA)
Please, please ditch the “dark alley” line from 1972: if we’re to understand the safety issues in the Internet we need to understand that women are endangered at work, going on dates, and in our own homes—at all ages. As the article points out, danger is not only in “dark alleys” but in the places we go to stay out of them—like taxicabs. Twitter’s issues are not just a case of the nature of the platform, but of its own management. Twitter routinely states that threats of violence toward women *don’t* violate terms of service. Aggressors have noted this and are using the cover of trans rights to threaten women with impunity. Twitter does nothing. Yet the women who speak up about this *do*get suspended. @SamBarber1910 has a compilation thread of suspensions of feminists. It’s the targets, not the aggressors, being silenced. It’s easy to say, stay off Twitter, but like it or not, it’s a public square, and it’s inequitable to tell women to stay inside or risk being harmed. This has real-life consequences for women whose work lives and more rely on public dialogue. The murky matters of private company, public discussion, TOS, etc., make it hard to address.
Upton (Bronx)
@Rose Liz Given how dangerous it is out there for women, I'm wondering how it is that women outlive men by five years or so? Also, how is it that today's generation seems to feel Tinder is a normal part of their "love" life? Also, what kind of job requires you to engage in "public dialogue"? Are you an "influencer"? Sane humanity needs to retreat (actually, advance) from Twitter. Politicians and statesmen and business people and professionals need to act like grown-ups (visit the 1950's, for those who don't know what a grown-up is) and issue carefully written press releases. And wear suits. And wear neck ties with their suits. And wear grown-up shoes, not "athletic" footwear. (Most women actually dress in a more adult-like manner than their male peers.) And understand that everything isn't "awesome". Everybody, everybody (including children, both actual and mental), needs to say "hello", smile at strangers, hug them after getting permission, and conduct much more of their days in person. Sledge hammer the smart phone (and participation trophies), get a flip phone, dump social media, hug the kids in school, hug the dog (after getting permission), and join the normal world. Normal. A wonderful concept that millenials have abandoned, if they ever knew it.
redweather (Atlanta)
@Rose Liz I would not continue to visit or use an online service where I did not feel safe.
Rose Liz (PA)
Really, the fact that women live longer means they have no safety concerns, or that we shouldn't worry about such concerns? Why such spite and bile, why the projection of this language like "influencer"? I said nothing about that, about myself, or whether or not or how I use social media. As far as my status, I'll let you wonder about how influential and distinguished I might be if you really need to. Not relevant here. Yes, women engage in public life. People like Emily Chang, Kamal Harris, Jennifer Gunter, and many others use it in a professional capacity. Brene Brown, Samantha Bee, Mary Beard. And many others. Yes, prominent women you may have heard of; but that's not really the point. Like it or not, professionals are *expected* to use it as part of their work, and women may *want* to—it's not up to you to tell them not to. And that won't solve the problem anyway. If there is a platform, women have a right to equal access and equal safety. All the riffing on influencers and hugs does not negate that. Mocking women under the cover of extolling the "normal world" merely shows what the problem is. Thank you for making it so clear.
harpla (Wisconsin)
While it is a current reality that women are not safe in the world, I wonder when we can move from "keeping women safe" to "changing the way men behave with women." It seems to me that this is the only way to change that reality. Either we have decided that men are unredeemable or that "someday" women will be safe. If we are hoping for a better future for women, when do we think that will be? The near universal emphasis on strategies for keeping women safe lets men off the hook.
Dr B (San Diego)
@harpla We definitely need to change culture so that all men are more respectful of women. I believe the #MeToo movement is helping in that regard. Perhaps the largest cultural change that is needed is the encouragement, if not indeed the insistence, that there be a strong male role model in the lives of all boys. Following the lead of a man who shows by example how to properly treat women is the strongest way to affect a man's behavior throughout his life. Attempts to shame or punish poor behavior in adults is needed, but better to raise men who know not to act that way.
harpla (Wisconsin)
@Dr B Absolutely. It's important to know why our society creates misogynist men and to learn how we can shape attitudes differently. Also consider: respectful behavior toward EVERYONE would remove women from their role as some kind of special case - Putting them in a special place that requires extra or different treatment only maintains a kind of separation that serves to continue their segregation and rob them of their agency. Our ideas about masculinity, femininity and gender roles are culturally invented, not naturally occurring. Scholars suggest that the current state of affairs can be traced to rise of the factory system (separating production and reproduction activities) and the loss of the commons. Our ideas about gender are not written in biology, but in economics.
Dr B (San Diego)
@harpla :-))
pjc (Cleveland)
Who? Who is the digital world designed to keep safe? Come on. Please tell me you realize the second we all log on, we are entering a post-safety world. Wild West squared. Nice narrative. Will be laughably obsolete within a year. I repeat my first question: Who?
Chickpea (California)
As usual, any time an article is printed having anything to do with women’s rights or safety, there is a pile on of comments by people self identifying as male to prove the point, and to illustrate that misogyny is alive and well in this U.S.A. No, guys, we don’t feel safe, and with very good reason. Avoiding being treated like a punching bag online and IRL isn’t “being a victim.” But maintaining an environment where others can’t express themselves freely without threat is being an [insert term not permitted on this platform].
Lady Edith (New York)
@Chickpea I'm also enjoying the advice predicated on the "participation in the internet is voluntary" theme, as if women should relegate themselves to careers that allow them to stay off the grid.
Upton (Bronx)
@Lady Edith A career that requires anyone to be "on the grid" (whatever that is) would be the issue. Fight against any organization that makes this absurdly unproductive requirement. It's certainly one of the reasons why we've had no gain in worker productivity since the twentieth century.
rachel (MA)
@Upton Marketing, communications, media jobs - would all require people to be be paid to communicate within all these social media spheres. This isn't about unproductive surfing, shopping or socializing.
cf (ma)
Ya know, sometimes one must protect one's privacy. Using a gender neutral name can be prudent, as is never letting out the fact you're a female. Live alone or like cats. Do NOT post personal family/friend photos online open to just anyone. Never allow your clothing or other items like bags/packs to display your name or any other personally identifying factors. I travelled solo around the world for over 20 years and I have used more lies, excuses and thrown personal bait away from my entire everything. Since when do you just tell or share with strangers personal bits of information? Don't be susceptible or ignorant. Yeah my fiance, the football player, is meeting me at the beach/club whatever. Sorry can't take an offer of that drink, my baby shower is next week. Lies can work well, mostly. Some men can never take no as an answer, stay very clear and farther away from these ones.
Cassandra (Vermont)
I hear you! Among my near misses was foiling a kidnapping in progress, by a fellow American, while in Asia, by leading him to believe I was being treated for V.D.
Rea Tarr (Malone, NY)
@cf Sounds rather cowardly to me. (From an 80+-year-old woman who's been everywhere, done everything all by her own little self and never copped out by pretending she was anything but a woman who could handle herself in any situation thank you.)
Brekkie4dinner (Nyc)
Thank you for highlighting the outskirts of this very serious problem which i see as: A persistent lack of competent, credible female legislators willing and able to propose for passage, simple and effective protections for “American Females” including “the American Dream”. The “American Dream” has been defined in intentionally vague, immeasurable terms, causing seething discontent because of *laziness and persistent imprecisions of/in language and meaning.* Meaning, beyond age, FASB/IFRS measures, actuarial estimates of “American Dream”, human life, (ie, self-worth), isn’t it time *for all Americans* to redefine intrinsic values of meanings and expectations in & of “Being American” including Female? Why demand & settle for the lowest limits of “acceptable, standards”, ie, “equality”? To define any thing by the limits of the barest minimum is to negate & deny actual & potential collective value, intent and actions, as humans and as a nation. America, by the way, is the Earth’s most compassionate, generous nation ito economically supporting all people & nations on Earth. Economic stability & redistribution are the primary tenets of American government (Musgrave). The meanings of being Female in America are more than eliminating “inequality”; rather, about enabling & valuing curiosity, language precision, early detection, correction/reversal of chicanes that thwart or mis-measure & misrepresent Females in America are, say, do, & whose competence deems capable of.
Mark Thomason (Clawson, MI)
@Brekkie4dinner -- "To define any thing by the limits of the barest minimum is to negate & deny" True. Yet that in reality is how we define all of our Constitutional rights. Courts say, "No, you can't go that far down." Otherwise, it is anything goes. I can't think of even one example in which our government allows us rights/protections greater than the absolute rock bottom minimum the courts say they must. Why do we elect people who treat us all that way?
Bonnie (New Orleans)
@Brekkie4dinner What's with all the scare quotes?
John B (Midwest)
Ms Chang, Nobody is forcing you to use Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You state that you’ve “stopped sharing personal, nonwork-related updates and deleted photos of my children”, why on earth did you post that stuff in the first place? You also don’t want to be bothered with a EULA? These social media platforms exist solely to make money. They’re not offering their services because of altruistic beliefs. But now your trying to convince the NYT readership that there should be some kind of “Internet women’s privacy regulation”. Should there be a different set of rules for men’s privacy? Seems to me your trying to fan the flames of victim-hood here and sell more copies of your book.
Lady Edith (New York)
@John B Actually, as a senior-level marketing professional, yes, I am "forced" to use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram if I would like to keep my job.
John B (Midwest)
@Lady Do they only “force” women to use social media as a means to hawk their goods or services? How would we write privacy legislation/rules that apply only to a specific group of people regarding social media in relation to a business that forces all its employees to use social media as part of its business plan?
Lady Edith (New York)
@John B I was simply replying to your false claim that no one *has* to be on social media. Many of us in communications, marketing, public relations, and sales positions are indeed required to maintain personal versions of these accounts as a means of conducting our day-to-day corporate activities on the same channels. I'm not exactly sure what point your follow-up comment is supposed to be making, but I definitely do not remember the author of this piece suggesting that there should be a set of rules that apply *only* to women.
Daniel Kauffman ✅ (Tysons, Virginia)
Outlawing AI in products and services that improve energy efficiencies serves to channel profits to illegal markets. If this is the goal, the illegal drug and trafficking markets will happily develop and absorb what we ignore. I would suggest AI is NOT the boogeyman that the media and “experts” suggest. Start by reviewing a short video by Victor Hidalgo, an AI future we need to embrace. Ponder it. Think in terms of the following, which are not mentioned: - You are the owner of your data. - You model AI functionality to your needs and desires. - Expanding on the AI video, consider the choices and redundancies you need to build and safeguard the products and services you purchase in a free market, such as your home and savings, while also building your ability to survive a severe natural disaster or climate change. For that matter, have it help build the decisions you need to make to avoid climate change by linking to the community and leveraging economies of scale. This can help democratize our wishes. Search for “Trusted Identities in Cyberspace,” an old White House document where Obama and Trump appear aligned. Think about it when you follow GPS. You control the vehicle. The same for AI, unless we simply allow governments, tech companies and illegal markets to have exclusive control. Search Victor Hidalgo TED talk, getting rid of politicians. https://www.ted.com/talks/cesar_hidalgo_a_bold_idea_to_replace_politicians/up-next?language=en. Enjoy!
Social Justice (New Haven Ct)
The author neglects to address the degree to which women use social media to attack other women (very common--Queen Bee sort of stuff) or especially men as a group. Check out the Twitter accounts of NYT op-ed writers Jessica Valenti and Jill Fillipovic if you want to see how social media is used to attack men. Its my opinion that this article was very silly. It looks like a Times editor contacted her about this privacy project and said "give us a feminist angle", sort of like a feminist angle on colors of the rainbow or why the aiglets on my shoes don't rust anymore.....
Entera (Santa Barbara)
@Chris M As an older person who has seen a lot of societal changes, the behavior you talk about was barely practiced before the days of nonstop media consumption. I've also worked a lot in the media/entertainment industries for many years, and have witnessed the changes employed to draw eyes and ears in an increasingly competitive, crowded arena, and they involve snark and humiliation to get people to look and purchase. The prevalence of snark I see being employed everywhere now comes from watching these shows that use it as a means of cheap writing, rather than skill.
Brekkie4dinner (Nyc)
Thank you for highlighting the outskirts of this very serious problem which i see as: A persistent lack of competent, credible female legislators willing and able to propose for passage, simple and effective protections for predators of “American Females” including “the American Dream”. The “American Dream” has been intentionally vague, deemed immeasurable, rife with seething discontent because of *laziness and persistent imprecisions of/in language and meaning.* Meaning, beyond age & FASB/IFRS, actuarial, net worth as measures of “American Dream”, human life & self-worth, isn’t it time *for all Americans* to redefine the intrinsic values of the meanings and expectations in & of “Being American”? Why must we demand and settle for the lowest limits of “acceptable, standards”, ie, “equality”? To define ourselves, as being American, by the limits of the barest minimum is to negate & deny our collective conscious, intent and actions, as humans and a nation. America, by the way, is the Earth’s most compassionate, generous, and economically supportive of all nations on Earth. Economic stability & redistribution are the primary tenets of American government (Musgrave). The meaning of being Female in America are not about eliminating “inequality” but about enabling & valuing curiosity, language precision, early detection, correction/reversal of chicanes that thwart or mis-measure & misrepresent what Females in America are, say, do, & whose competence deems capable of.
Carol P (NYC)
“Digital privacy is a women’s issue...” yes!
Michael (Lansing, MI)
I wholeheartedly agree with Ms. Chang's discussion about data breaches and corporate responsibility, rights to delete data, that cyberstalking/harassment is a legitimate issue. Some of that appears unavoidable given our data infrastructure and tech norms, and I approve of moves to improve these for the safety of everyone. I take some issue with her swipes/critiques at social media though. It is normal and accepted to jab Facebook (FB) and Instagram (IG) these days, but those are not necessities for daily life. A way to avoid creepy people on FB/IG is to not use FB/IG. Being on social media opens you up to the good and bad of society, which are risks that must be acknowledged by the user. That does not excuse abhorrent behavior by unscrupulous people, but at the end of the day each person is the most responsible for their own safety and privacy. Her criticisms of WhatsApp fall into the same category for me: there are alternatives to WhatsApp which the user is capable of choosing. I also agree with @mrpisces regarding end user agreements. You cannot claim that you weren't given a chance for consent when you admit to "...scrolling through seemingly endless 'terms of service' and then checking a box." More needs to be done to protect online privacy, especially for women. But I do not find all of these critiques valid.
Auntie Mame (NYC)
So hard to know what is -- I know in this day and age it can be impossible to get someone's phone number/address, which used to be there in the white pages. I am super careful but probably not effectively as I think NOT to save passwords, user names another matter. Also careful about what I write or images that I post-- and then it's most of the time. I try to reread my e-messages before sending.. so they aren't misunderstood. Learned the lesson "be careful what you say and how you say it" when I was about 10-12. Since Assange and Snowden revealed a lot of nonsense that the government perpetuates in the name of national security -- altho they don't seem to manage to curtail Congolese government officials from buying NYC 7 million apts. in cash. The pendulum seems to be swing both ways-- two pendulums currently. We are constantly tracked-- your metro card, CCTV, charge cards, and sometimes our privacy settings only protect us from ourselves (can be very problematic.
mrpisces (Loui)
"In other words, digital privacy is a women’s issue.". This won't get any sympathy from me as male. I am more concerned about kids in the digital space than adults. Digital privacy is everyone's concern, not just women's. In the same paragraph, the author complains about scrolling through endless "terms of service" and then checking a box. If you don't bother to read and understand the terms of using a specific social media service, then you don't have the right to complain about how it works or is offered. The digital privacy complaining by this author is totally misplaced. These lapses in privacy come from using new technology that is not mature and regulated properly. Nearly all technology we use is being driven by companies looking to make money. The more information it has about you, the more it can offer. However, anything that has a good purpose can be misused by someone else and this goes back to the beginning of the human species. Nothing new. The author fails to address a key important detail. Most online and information technology is developed by men. Maybe more women in technology is needed. Another important detail is that a lot software developed is outsourced overseas where culture is different and cyber security is more relaxed. If the author wants to influence how technology is developed, companies listen to money and rarely to complaining.
rachel (MA)
@mrpisces She did make that point: "To do that, these companies need to hire and consult more women. Women hold just 25 percent of jobs across the tech industry and an even smaller percentage of prime engineering roles."
Stephen Merritt (Gainesville)
I just want to express my support for everything that Ms. Chang says here.
N Orange (SF)
I use uber because I have to leave my house, very early, alone and in the dark. I am lucky that I can afford that luxury. I feel safer knowing that the car comes straight to my door and drops my off exactly at my location so I don’t have to walk the 4 blocks in the dark to the bus. I always take pool because I like that there are other passengers in the car with me—strength in numbers, maybe? However, a few days ago, Uber changed it’s pool: now, as before, you have options between pool and X, but pool express is gone. I click to choose the regular pool, then taken to a screen where it’s been “pre-selected” for me to walk “a few short blocks” to get a pool for the price I was quoted. If I unselect that, since, as I said, I use this service specifically so I dont have to walk in the early morning dark, I am charged almost double instead. I feel duped and that I am being charged extra because I am trying to be safer. Maybe a man would never think, “walking those extra blocks might be dangerous” etc, but it can be for us. It is in these ways also that the internet and tech is not safe for us.
Auntie Mame (NYC)
@N Orange BTW I needed a can to help me walk for several years -- now I carry one in strange cities. I would not be afraid to bash someone with it. (Remember the self-protection classes where you were taught about grabbing garbage can lids, or rolling a magazine to make a weapon. Pepper spray (illegal but..) and a whistle device -- might make you feel safer. In my 74 years, my purse was picked on the subway -- I have been in various nabes in various countries -- try to be aware, and frankly, I am not at all sure men are any safer than women in many situations. Sometimes just the opposite. Also, wear shoes you can effectively kick with and run it. No fancy handbags.. or external handbags at all-- under your coat!
left coast finch (L.A.)
@N Orange What, no such thing as taxis in San Francisco? Maybe Uber and Lyft are currently on top but last year I saw plenty of taxis in San Francisco. You do know they will pick you up at your door, don’t you?
@left coast finch Sitting in FiDi right now, and there are plenty of Taxis, but if her budget is typically Uber pool, those taxis are going to be 3-4x as expensive, depending on where she's going. An Uber pool home for me (very eastern SoMA) is usually around 4 bucks, an x is around 10-11, and a cab can be 13-15. Pool is pretty much the cheapest non-bus / metro way to get around in most cities.
Thomas Smith (Texas)
And all this time I have been led to believe there is no difference between a man and a woman. Now, it seems, women require additional protection. So are they the same or not?
Subjecttochange (Los Angeles)
Well, do you think a man walking alone on a dark street, or living alone, is as liable to be a rape victim as a woman is? My guess would be “no.” So that’s the main difference.
Rod Sheridan (Toronto)
@Thomas Smith Women are the same. They generally treat men and women the same. Men are not the same, they treat men and women differently. Men do not stalk, harass, and sexually assault other men, they reserve that behavior for women. Until men learn how to behave properly, we're going to have to make things difficult for men to behave poorly. Once men correct their attitudes and actions, we can be treated like the other half of society.
R D (Brooklyn)
@Thomas Smith Presumably you just like seeing your name in print and to feel polemical. The alternative is that you don't understand women and men have and deserve equal dignity and respect and freedom, and yet one sex is targeted more than the other, in affront precisely of women's dignity and freedom.
Waleed Khalid (New York, New York)
Unfortunately, the internet creates an environment where people can say whatever they want and not have any repercussions (except in very specific places). It’s why hate speech is so prevalent in the online world. That being said, I do not entirely agree with the author. Sure, the internet allows creepers to find people remarkable easily, but most of what is said online isn’t ‘real’. Having been in the online gaming community for years (not super involved, but enough to know how things can work), there is a small, but strangely vocal group that always uses hate speech. Most of those people, when you ask them why they use those words and not more appropriate ones to insult people (ironic, but word choice is important), they say that it’s just funny or they don’t really know. Ive also been tempted in some of my angrier moments to use hate speech to insult others online, but I typically don’t. This made me realize that the ‘don’t really know’ moments are more more due to having an easy repertoire of insults due to so many examples, and less to do with actual biases. These days I even question people online why they equate gay with stupid- most say that they don’t really hate gay people, it’s just a common insult online. Back to women, most people who insult women online don’t do it because they hate women, it’s just dumb people not having original insults to use. Also, I’ve found that it’s mostly teen boys (high schoolers) who use that language. Maturity plays a huge role!
Carole Goldberg (Northern CA)
@Waleed Khalid Put yourself in a woman's place. How do you know when insults are meaningless or a prelude to more aggressive behavior? When so much of our personal information can be found in a simple search, how can you be sure that the insulter is a person who is just messing around?
Ed (America)
"I’ve been harassed online." Who hasn't? Get over yourself. Women have no more right not to harassed or insulted than men. No one has a right to be free from meanness or insults or boorish behavior. Want to be treated equally? Stop thinking of yourself as a victim.
R D (Brooklyn)
@Ed Women thinking of themselves as the victim is not what gets women raped. Women thinking of themselves as the victim is not what gets women lower salaries. Women thinking of themselves as objectified, sidelined and silenced in movies is not what actually objectifies, sidelines and silences them. The problem is not in calling out the problem.
France (Canada)
@Ed There is a special quality to a rape and/or murder threat received online. It is not about seeing oneself as a victim, it's about making sure one does not become one.
Burt Chabot (San Diego)
So simple to spit out platitudes that some men appear to prefer it to actual effortful thought (perhaps I can challenge Daniel Kahneman to write a sequel “Thinking fast and Not”). As our frontiers have expanded we have (until now) expanded our understanding of how our constitution should be interpreted. Many of the responses I am reading here sound something like ‘let them wear cyber burkas so as not to shame their families’, instead of how does this new frontier fit into the ideal of equal protection under the law.
Kate (Dallas)
These companies are missing out on millions if not billions of dollars and potential customers from women like me who have deleted accounts, stopped posting, signed off, etc. due to online harassment. In its last earnings report, Twtter acknowledged it was losing millions of users and would "stop disclosing the monthly active user number after the first quarter of this year." If we can't appeal to their decency, you'd think greed could work. Or hey women, let's launch an alternative.
Burke Moses (New York, NY)
Free speech does not extend to anonymous speech. Perhaps it’s time to have internet IDs. So that anything one says online can be held against them in a court of law. No more pretend names or the ability to create dozens of profiles. Anonymity is what makes the net so dangerous.
Rod Sheridan (Toronto)
@Burke Moses I agree, perhaps having to submit government ID to service providers would be a good start, as well as having to use your correct name and location when posting.
Len Arends (California)
@Burke Moses I'm sure corporate leaders and autocratic governments love your idea ... Claims presented anonymously, without sourcing, shouldn't be given much weight as fact, but they illuminate chains of reasoning and lines of investigation that might not otherwise be explored for fear of retaliation from adverse powers (which include all flavors of political thought). Opinions and philosophical conclusions do not depend on the particulars of the claimant. Logical deductions stand or fall on their own merit. (Thomas Paine's Common Sense was published anonymously.) Hurt feelings are not de facto civil rights violations.
David Goldberg (New Hampshire)
@Rod Sheridan Sounds like what China is implementing, to make sure the only speech is "approved" speech. Are you still sure it's a good idea?
Brinda (atlanta)
"Women hold just 25 percent of jobs across the tech industry and an even smaller percentage of prime engineering role" As a tech grad, the lack of women in tech fields is not the fault of the universities or companies. Women seem drawn to non-tech careers and liberal arts professions. I keep wondering why.
Virgil T. (New York)
@Brinda The other issue is that plenty of men don't want to go into STEM either... it takes a certain mindset that not everyone has. It is hard if not impossible to succeed in such a career if you aren't genuinely interested in it, and genuine interest cannot be brute forced by social policy.
Glasses (San Francisco)
@Brinda Women may not necessarily be more drawn to not-tech careers but in my case may be repelled from tech careers early on. In my Ivy League university, I was repeatedly bothered (or one might say "harassed") in the first comp sci class I took as part of my major at the time. These guys would breathe down my neck literally in the computer lab, make all kinds of comments, fake marriage proposals, etc. I had to be in the lab to do my homework for the class so you know what I did? I changed my major so I would never have to set foot in that computer lab with those creeps ever again. I wish I knew then how much I was shortchanging myself for turning away from that skill set - I might have tried harder to persist.
Entera (Santa Barbara)
@Brinda Women have continually been told we're not good at math, and if any of us persevere and get into those technical fields anyway, the amount of harassment and even threats we experience from male counterparts can often be enough to drive us away from those fields just out of sheer self preservation. And don't call us sissies for this. How about calling the people who do this Bullies and Neanderthals?
J (QC)
Whatever your gender, why would you post photos of your children or information about your personal life for the world to see? If you aren't a celebrity, then strangers have no valid reason to care--and you have no valid reason to want them to know.
@J, Often it's unintentional. Social media sites use default settings that tilt towards sharing. You may be posting your grandkid's photo thinking it's just for close family, and instead, it's made fully public. Social media sites bear most of the blame here.
Helina (Lala Land)
@LAS You can't blame Social Media sites for everything, especially when you have the choice to leave. I was on Facebook long enough to see people just uploading pictures incessantly to share with 600 of their closest friends. Completely devoid of thought. We have to change our behaviors online. No one would ever dream of showing their family albums to random strangers on the bus, but we do it online.
Pat (Somewhere)
You might question your continuing voluntary participation in "social media" if all it seems to facilitate are data breaches and harassment.
Dominic (Minneapolis)
@Pat That's right! We shouldn't have laws, or rules-- it's all your own fault! Who needs culture or civilization-- individual behavior is all that matters! Spot on, man!
Virgil T. (New York)
@Dominic I think your sarcasm is misplaced. A culture is still the result of individual behavior. Leading by action and removing yourself from social media is perhaps the most effective thing a typical individual can do to bring about cultural change, as opposed to waiting for band-aid legislation that will achieve nothing.
Pat (Somewhere)
@Dominic Perhaps you consider Twitter and FB to be "culture or civilization" but I do not. Voluntarily putting personal information where anyone can see it and then complaining about the consequences is not rational.
Susan Assadi (Brooklyn)
Great article!
Tim Mosk (British Columbia)
Jennifer Lawrence should be able to sue Apple because her password was weak? That’s like suing McDonalds because you left your pictures on a table and someone took them. Men taking more selfies than women in Norway doesn’t mean we need new regulations. Don’t make facts about yourself public if you don’t want them to be public - it’s as if we’re all writing autobiographies and getting upset when people read them.
FS (Colorado)
Sounds like typical victim blaming to me. Just because I forget to lock my doors doesn’t mean it’s ok for someone to come into my house and steal my things. Just because my doors were unlocked doesn’t mean I deserved it and shouldn’t seek justice. It’s not illegal to have a “weak password” or leave your house unlocked but theft including digital is/should be illegal.
mrpisces (Loui)
Criminals have been around since the beginning of human species and should be punished accordingly. However, it doesn't remove your responsibility to protect yourself.
lmsh (Berlin)
Are you blaming victims of hackers and people threatening assault and worse?
BTO (Somerset, MA)
No one is safe (women, men or children) if you open yourself up to the internet. The internet was one of the greatest creations and at the same time it was one of the worst and it changes so fast that there isn't any real legislation to protect people. This is the tomorrow we are leaving to our children.
Natalie J Belle MD (Ohio)
Commonsense people (men and women). One does not share anything that is valuable such as photos of children, family information and other personal items. As tempting as it is to share with your online family (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter) there is false intimacy in many of these relationships. In short, you are not as close to those who share with you and you would believe. I don't share personal items with my coworkers and certainly, I keep constantly aware that anything posted on the internet is potentially public. The best way not to be a victim of anything is common sense and awareness.
Fran (Midwest)
There is more to the "digital world" than just the internet. I buy most of my food from the same supermarket (Meijer's, in Michigan) and I always pay with the same debit card. Good prices and convenience, what more could I ask for. Some time ago, I bought some cat food (not for me, I don't have a cat); the two cans I bought were included in my usual food-shopping total, i.e. paid with my Chase debit card. Recently, I started receiving junk mail from local animal protection organizations and a pet-food producer. No big deal, I don't bother to read it. But I cannot help wondering: what kind of junk mail would I be getting if my neighbor had asked me to bring her a six-pack of condoms or a pregnancy test kit? (For your information, I am a woman and well over 80).
Jaded Trader (Midwest)
@Fran - Spot on observation. Selling personal data for marketing and profit purposes (without permission) is a massive problem. The government doesn’t care because they sell personal data as well.
Ellen (Williamburg)
@Fran also noted... I, as well as my friends, have noticed having conversations related to things or services we might need or want.. actual conversation, in real time and not online, only to see ads for exactly that popping up within minutes or hours.. super creepy.
Pat (Somewhere)
@Fran It's a good thing -- think of it as feeding disinformation to a system that is trying to know as much as possible about you without asking your consent.