Online harassment and “digital rape”

I came across this article which was cited in one of our assigned readings earlier in the course and found it really interesting.

It’s pretty relevant to what we talked about in class today so I thought I would share it. Basically, the author describes an early version of online trolling/harassment in which a player committed “virtual rape” on a number of characters in a text-based online multiplayer game. It’s a bit hard to describe exactly how this worked in the context of the game so I’d highly recommend reading the article which does a great job of explaining it.

This article really highlights some of the issues we discussed today (and relates strongly to the Second Life reading assigned). It raises and discusses questions surrounding what type of response, if any, is appropriate to take against online harassment/sexual harassment (and whether this action should be taken by players, admins, or both); whether the behaviour of “trolls” or harassers can be modified or changed by community response; how online harassment impacts its victims and its universe/game world (some great quotes from the victims themselves in the article); and the ultimate futility of repercussions such as “banning” in the online environment where perpetrators can simply create a new account and continue their trolling behaviour.

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