BKC Responsible AI Fellow Rumman Chowdhury co-writes a piece on the shortfalls of platforms fighting online abuse.
“These tools work well for dealing with episodic attacks. But for journalists, politicians, scientists, actors—anyone, really, who relies on connecting online to do their jobs—they are woefully insufficient. Blocking and muting do little for ongoing coordinated attacks, as entire groups maintain a continuous stream of harassment from different accounts. Even when users successfully block their harassers, the ongoing mental health impact of seeing a deluge of attacks is immense; in other words, the damage is already done. These are retroactive tools, useful only after someone has been harmed. Closing direct messages and making an account private can protect the victim of an acute attack; they can go public again after the harassment subsides. But these are not realistic options for the chronically abused, as over time they only remove people from broader online discourse.”