Mother Jones has a long article on “ElevatorGATE.”
Earlier this month, at least five women contacted Xavier Damman, the CEO of Storify, to complain that a user who goes by the handle “elevatorgate” was harassing female users via Damman’s popular social-media curation site.
I could have told them that two years ago, or any time between then and now. I did tell Twitter several times. Twitter yawned.
…the women who complained about him say he has a history of sending abusive and misogynistic messages on other social networks. Elevatorgate’s Twitter account is suspended, but his YouTube page includes a video of Rebecca Watson, a 32-year-old New Yorker who runs Skepchick, a site about feminism and atheism, edited to make it sound like she’s saying she “had sex with Richard Dawkins,” the famous evolutionary biologist and author. Another video on elevatorgate’s YouTube page has been edited to make it appear that a female writer says, “heck yeah, I want to hook up” and “would you like to come up to my room now and have sex?”
I didn’t know that. I looked at the first one. Yup it does that. Fortunately it’s blindingly obvious that it’s edited, but still – that’s a shitty trick, aka abusive.
Storify isn’t the only tech company to cite the principle of free speech to defend its refusal to remove allegedly harassing content. But companies aren’t obliged to honor the First Amendment the same way the government is—they have the legal right to kick out or ban anyone they don’t want using their service.
“The idea that a social-media network should be entirely neutral is a myth,” says Jaclyn Friedman, the executive director for Women, Action and the Media, a nonprofit that advocates for gender equality in the media. “Neutral platforms are only neutral for straight white dudes. These companies need to make a decision: Do I want to be making a money off of a platform where abusers and harassers feel more comfortable than the abused and harassed?”
They’ve already made it. Yes, they do – probably because they think (perhaps correctly) that abusers and harassers and people who don’t mind them are more numerous than the abused and harassed and people who dislike abuse and harassment. They’ve made what they take to be the correct financial decision.
Online harassment can have serious consequences. The International Journal of Cyber Criminology says aggressive online conduct can trigger PTSD…
That’s interesting, because it’s a claim the abusers and harassers like to laugh at. Oh hahahahaha, they shout, go get blown up in a war and then talk to us about PTSD! The bullies’ defense – other people have it much worse, so what I’m doing to you doesn’t count as abuse. Pu-leeze.
After Women, Action and the Media criticized Facebook in May for failing to take down hate speech against women or remove photos depicting rape and domestic violence, the social network is now requiring sections that contain vulgar and offensive content to be clearly marked, and in some cases requiring the page’s administrator to post with his or her real name. “While it may be vulgar and offensive, distasteful content on its own does not violate our policies,” a Facebook spokeswoman tells Mother Jones.
Look how the terms shift, for no reason and with no explanation. The problem with hate speech and photos depicting rape and domestic violence is not that they’re “vulgar and offensive” or “distasteful.” Talk about missing the point.
In response to questions from Mother Jones, a person claiming to “work with elevatorgate” provided access to a Google document in which elevatorgate addressed allegations that he has harassed women through Storify and other social networks—before later revoking access to the document. “We’ve decided this story isn’t for us,” the intermediary emailed. “If you would like a villain for your piece, I would recommend finding somebody who is actually guilty of something. There are far worse people out there than a man who Storifies people’s tweets.”
See? There it is again! There are worse people out there than ElevatorGATE. Yes of course there are; that doesn’t mean ElevatorGATE doesn’t do bad things. He does do bad things. He does horrible things, and he does them all day every day.
In the Google doc briefly viewed by Mother Jones, elevatorgate wrote that he does not use his real name on social media because doing so could make him a target of harassment.
Ah. Now where did I put that irony meter…