Bernie Sanders Tells Berniebros To Knock It Off — ‘We Don’t

Gathered together in one place, for easy access, an agglomeration of writings and images relevant to the Rapeutation phenomenon.

Re: Bernie Sanders Tells Berniebros To Knock It Off — ‘We Do

Postby admin » Tue Feb 09, 2016 5:48 am

Women, LGBT least safe on Facebook, despite 'real name' policy
by Violet Blue , @violetblue
06.25.15

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Despite Facebook's insistence that its "real names" policy keeps its users safe, a new report reveals that Facebook is the least safe place for women online. And things are turning more explosive, as stories emerge that Facebook has been changing its users' names without their consent -- and the company isn't allowing them to remove their real names from their accounts. Meanwhile, a furious LGBT coalition has rallied around the safety threats posed to its communities by the policy. Though, it was unsuccessful in blocking the company from marching in America's largest gay pride parade.

Facebook's ongoing war on pseudonyms became well-documented in 2011 when a blogger risking her life to report on crime in Honduras was suspended by the company, under its rule requiring everyone to use their real name on the social network. The problem re-emerged in September 2014 when Facebook's policy locked an eye-opening number of LGBT accounts in violation of the "real names" rule. Facebook met with Bay Area LGBT community representatives, offered an apology, then suggested a policy change was in the works. Surprise: It never came. Nine months later, Facebook has failed to solidify or clarify this policy, and one organization has bad news for Facebook's years of "real name" policy implementation.

Epicenter of online abuse for over 23 million women

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Protest against Domestic Violence in Australia

The Safety Net Project (at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, NNEDV) recently released a report based on results from victim service providers called A Glimpse From the Field: How Abusers Are Misusing Technology.

The report found that nearly all (99 percent) the responding programs reported that Facebook is the most misused social media platform by abusers. Facebook is a key place for offenders to access information about victims or harass them by direct messaging or via their friends and family. The respondents included national domestic violence programs, sexual assault programs, law enforcement, prosecutor's offices and civil legal services.

Facebook is the most misused social media platform by abusers.

NNEDV's report (PDF) concluded that, "It is unsurprising that nearly every program reported Facebook as the main social media abusers use to harass victims." That's because, "Facebook is the hardest for survivors to shut down or avoid because they use it to keep in contact with other friends and family." And no wonder, because NNEDV recognizes the critical need to avoid isolation for abuse victims. "Although we often hear suggestions that survivors shouldn't use social media, we don't agree that this is a solution."

NNEDV tells us that one in four American women are domestic abuse survivors; in one recent 24-hour survey, NNEDV found that US domestic violence programs served more than 65,000 victims and answered more than 23,000 crisis hotline calls in one day alone. It's widely accepted that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender survivors of violence experience the same rates of violence as straight individuals.

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Pew currently estimates that 71 percent of American adults (188 million) use Facebook; if half are female, and one in four of those are victims of domestic violence -- that's a little over 23 million women whose "real names" put them in danger. And that's 23 million users who, especially if they are using the social network by its own rules, are experiencing Facebook as their primary avenue of abuse, harassment and stalking.

When reached for comment about the How Abusers Are Misusing Technology report, a Facebook spokesperson referred us to this Facebook post explaining how the company's "authentic name" policy "creates a safer community for everyone."

Facebook Safety
June 1, 2015

Today marks the start of National Internet Safety Month in the U.S. Over the next four weeks, we will be posting about some of the ways Facebook works to keep people safe. We're beginning today with our authentic name policy.

The authentic name requirement has defined and distinguished our service from its earliest days. We firmly believe in and are committed to our authentic name policy, and ask that everyone on Facebook use their authentic name on their profile.

Having people use their authentic names helps protect our community from dangerous interactions, like when an abusive ex-boyfriend impersonates a friend to harass his ex-girlfriend, or a high school bully uses a fake name to post hateful comments about a gay classmate.

When people use their authentic names on Facebook they are more accountable for what they say. People can be assured that they’re really connecting with their loved ones, and no-one can hide behind an anonymous name to bully, taunt or say insensitive or inappropriate things. This creates a safer community for everyone.

Last year we realized that we were making it too hard for people to confirm their authentic identity on Facebook. For various reasons, people had difficulty with the process of verification and we are sorry to anyone who has been affected by this. So, in consultation with local and national LGBTQ community members and others who provided valuable suggestions and feedback, we’ve made significant improvements in response to some of their concerns:

• We now provide people in the U.S. access to their account while they verify or update their name. We also offer the option to act immediately or within seven days. We will be expanding this to our global community in the coming months.

• We expanded the options and documents that people can use to verify their authentic name. People can now verify their name without having to show a legal document in that name. They can confirm their name with things like a piece of mail, a magazine subscription, or a library card that include their authentic name.

• We clarified language throughout our site to make it clear that when we say authentic name, it does not necessarily need to be legal name.

As with all our products, we will continue to review and improve implementation of this policy to make sure it is working as effectively as possible, and will continue our ongoing conversations with members of the Facebook community.

We believe these changes will allow us to provide a better experience for everyone who uses Facebook, and ensure all members of the community can use the names that they use in real life, without sacrificing the safety that is important to us all.

--Justin Osofsky, Vice President of Global Operations, and Monika Bickert, Head of Global Product Policy


The Facebook prison experiment

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LISBON - DECEMBER 20, 2013: Photo of Facebook homepage on a monitor screen through a magnifying glass.

On its website resource for survivor support, NNEDV adds, "Getting off social media doesn't guarantee any level of safety or privacy. Additionally, online spaces can decrease isolation and offer much support for survivors, especially when they offer privacy and security controls to the user. Survivors shouldn't have to worry about their safety when they want to connect with friends and family online."

Facebook's very public 2013 partnership announcement with NNEDV shows that the company is fond of saying one thing, and instead doing the opposite.

Obviously, the status of that relationship is "complicated."

NNEDV's own Survivor Privacy Guide instructs survivors of abuse to never use their real names on social media accounts. "Survivors can maximize their privacy by using being careful about what they share, strategic in creating accounts (not using your real name in your email or username) and using privacy settings in social networks."

Survivor Privacy

Domestic violence survivors often require more privacy and safety considerations whether they have relocated and are in hiding or just want to minimize the information that abusers can gather about them. There are many areas that require a survivor's attention to ensure his or her privacy. This page explores some of those privacy risks and what survivors can do.

Address Confidentiality Programs (ACPs)

A key aspect for maximizing privacy for domestic violence survivors is to not give out their home addresses. Every time they are asked for their address, whether it is to vote in an election, to file a court petition, or to set up utilities in a new home, there is the potential that the abuser will get a hold of that information, which could increase safety risks. Some states offer address confidentiality programs (ACPs), which is a substitute address for participants to use. These programs are administered by states and enable victims of domestic violence (and sometimes victims of sexual assault and/or stalking) to conceal their location and minimize the ability of an abuser to find them. Participants can use this substitute address instead of their home address when receiving mail, opening bank accounts, or when asked for by state agencies, including for voting records, court filings, obtaining a driver's license, enrolling in public schools, obtaining child support, and other governmental functions that require an address. These programs are critical for survivors to maintain the privacy of their home address because most government agency records are public records and can be available and searchable online. See the Address Confidentiality Program chart below for a list of states that have address confidentiality programs.

Voter Confidentiality Programs

Voting in an election is a right that Americans greatly value and one that a survivor of abuse should not have to forego in order to keep her/his address confidential. However, voter registration is a public record and can be accessed by almost anyone. Some states limit access to their voter records to political parties or candidates, journalists, and academics, but other states do not restrict access at all. In fact, a study conducted by The California Voter Foundation indicates that 22 states allow unrestricted access to voter records. Confidential voter listing programs only provide confidentiality on election-related public records.

The following chart, created by the Boston Greater Legal Services, show which states offer these programs. It also includes information from the few states that provide additional location protections for victims, such as confidential sign-ups for utilities or confidential registration with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

• Confidentiality Programs Chart
• Domestic Violence and Voter Registration: Safety Considerations

Created by The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, this pamphlet provides survivors and advocates with recommendations for protecting and enhancing safety while exercising the right to vote.

Online Privacy

In addition to protecting location information through one of the above programs, there are many steps survivors can take to minimize the risk of personal information being shared. Online spaces have many risks to privacy. Survivors can maximize their privacy by using being careful about what they share, strategic in creating accounts (not using your real name in your email or username), and using privacy settings in social networks. Furthermore understanding how information about individuals gets shared online and how information offline gets online will help survivors strategize.

Online Privacy & Safety Tips

Browsing the web safely and privately is concern for many people. However, you can take steps to prevent sensitive and personal information from making its rounds on the Web. This one page handout has privacy & safety tips about email, passwords, social networks, online accounts, web browsing and more.

Web Wise Women

Victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking have complex safety risks and concerns when their personal information is on the Internet. This handout explains how information gets online, how it gets shared, and what you can do to limit the information that is shared about you.

Social media is one area in which many information about survivors can be shared—whether it is by the survivor or friends and family of the survivor. Using privacy settings can help ensure that survivors can still use these spaces while increasing privacy.

Privacy Considerations When Posting Content Online

The Internet is full of opportunities for us to share things about ourselves, whether it's a blog entry, updating our Facebook or MySpace status, or posting videos on sites like YouTube or Metacafe. Some people may not mind that the things they share about themselves can be viewed by anyone, but other people may be more concerned. For those who want to be more protective of their online information, here are some questions to consider when posting content online.

Privacy & Safety on Facebook

This guide addresses privacy on Facebook, as well as safety tips and options for when someone is misusing the site to harass, monitor, threaten, or stalk. It refers back to Facebook's Help Center in several places for more detailed information on settings and features – a site that all Facebook users should check out.

Other Privacy Tips

In addition to online spaces, there are many things that survivors can do to maximize their privacy. Consider using a virtual phone number and give out that phone number and turn the geotagging (location) feature off on smartphones.

Cell Phone & Location Strategies

Cell phones are integrated into our lives in a way that allows us, and potentially others, access to a lot of personal information, including our activities, social circles, and even location. The following information will help you assess whether you think your activities and location are being monitored through your cell phone and offer strategies to consider that can help maximize your safety needs.

Visit the Safety Net Page to see more information and privacy tips about relocation, technology, social networking.


The Survivor Privacy Guide isn't just the policy on "real names" for domestic violence victims; [it] is the bedrock instruction and most-cited policy for digital safety by every national sexual assault organization in the United States (including the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, National Sexual Violence Resource Center and numerous state coalitions against rape and Violence Against Women).

In NNEDV's Facebook guide for abuse survivors, it acknowledges both that Facebook's policy is to only use your "real name" and that an account's user name is one of the only things that can never be made private. The official NNEDV guide tells abuse victims and assault survivors the only option to avoid being abused, stalked and harassed by perpetrators by your real name on Facebook is... to not use Facebook.

"Victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking have even more complex safety risks and concerns when their personal information ends up on the internet," says NNEDV's Being Web Wise guide
-- where NNEDV advises only posting online anywhere using a "pen name."

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In the nine months since drag queens made headlines about Facebook's "real names" problem, the situation for LGBT people, sex workers, and female users has continued, and worsened.

Facebook, in the meantime, has kept its assurance in "expanding the options available for verifying," which now includes portals where users are told to upload their driver's licenses and passports (among many other official documents) to unlock their suddenly locked accounts. By May, the steady stream of reports that LGBT people were still being locked out of their accounts and forced to provide their legal name documentation (a terrifying predicament for many LGBT people) hadn't abated.

Believing Facebook is more interested in appearances than the LGBT community's worsening user safety problem, Bay Area LGBT figureheads concretized a movement, the MyNameIs Coalition, with a campaign to ban Facebook from this Sunday's SF Pride parade -- placing Facebook in the same category as other corporations who discriminate or behave harmfully toward LGBT people as a group, such as Coors and Exxon Mobil.

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SF Gay Pride Parade Bolstered By Recent Supreme Court Rulings

Local headlines read that the Pride board bent to pressure from Facebook.

The decision prompted the SF Examiner to write, "If you're a high-profile donor to San Francisco Pride, you might be able to discriminate against the LGBT community and get away with it." In at least one instance, Mark Zuckerberg placed at least one personal call to a board member.

According to meeting minutes, Pride board member Jesse Oliver Sanford railed at those who voted for Facebook saying, "What does it say if all it takes is a 15-minute phone call from Zuckerberg for Pride to sell out our own community?"

When reached for comment, SF Pride President Gary Virginia explained to Engadget that SF Pride would be focusing on finding a "solution to expand [Facebook's] authentication policies and procedures" in community meetings sometime in the "next 12 months."

"What does it say if all it takes is a 15-minute phone call from Zuckerberg for Pride to sell out our own community?"

Regarding the decision to keep Facebook in the parade, Virginia said, "We look at the totality of intentional support or harm to our queer community when vetting a potential sponsor or parade contingent. FB has been a staunch supporter of our queer community and has a perfect 100 score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. These are the main factors that drove the board's decision to continue to welcome Facebook's LGBT employee group in the parade and Facebook's sponsorship."

When reached for comment about SF Pride's decision in light of MyNameIs Campaign opposition, a Facebook spokesperson told Engadget, "Facebook is proud of our commitment to diversity and our support of the LGBTQ community as a company and an employer. We have been strong supporters of the San Francisco parade for many years. ... We look forward to joining this year's 45th annual celebration."

However, Facebook didn't have anything to say to us about reports that the company is changing its users' names without their consent.

At the same time MyNameIs began organizing its movement, some Facebook users discovered that Facebook is changing the names on their accounts to what Facebook believes is their "real name" -- and they have no choice about it.


Sherry Ey @sherryey
Stupid facebook, logged me out & changed my name on me. now I can't change it back for 60days.
YES, Sherry Ann Ey is me 'Rooster' :)
10:13 PM - 26 May 2015


User Sherry Ey wrote on May 26th, "Stupid Facebook, logged me out & changed my name on me." MziAMARt tweeted on June 10th, "They kept me from my account for the last two days then CHANGED MY NAME." On June 12th, Marilyn Ollie wrote, "So freakin upset with Facebook. How you gone send me an email and tell me that you changed my name and I can't change it back." User Modar Almouhammad wrote on June 16th, "Facebook changed my name without even asking me?"

One woman, who spoke under condition of anonymity, told Engadget that six weeks ago, Facebook flagged her name as "inauthentic" and was told to change her name. She did -- to the name on her ID. She said, "Two weeks later I received another notification that they didn't think that the name I had entered was my 'authentic' name and that I had to submit documents confirming that."

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16 years

She uploaded her ID and submitted her user name to be her first and middle name, as seen on her ID. She told Engadget, "I found that when I had my profile set to my name [first and last] that I had unwanted attention from people at my day job tracking me down and able to view my profile pictures, generally available photos, view my website and essentially able to stalk me in a way that made me feel unsafe."

But Facebook had its own plans after the company obtained her ID. "I received notification within two days of uploading my driver's license that they didn't accept my [first and middle name] as my legal name and would change my name to my [first and last name] unless I could provide other identity."

She said Facebook told her, "I would not be able to change my name again. Not in three months -- never."

This flies in the face of Facebook's own publicly stated policy following the September drag queen dust-up, when CPO Chris Cox released a statement saying:

"Our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name. The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life. For Sister Roma, that's Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that's Lil Miss Hot Mess."


The biggest unregulated private database on earth?

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data center with hard drives

Facebook appears to have started forcing birth names on its users around the time of the September 2014 LGBT name purge, as seen in this nine-month-old plea for help on Facebook's Help Community page. Triex Keiseki wrote, "I provided Facebook with my original birth certificate and my name change certificate -- instead they changed my name to my birth name, which I have hidden for the past years. ... and I SPECIFICALLY DID NOT WANT people to know."

Engadget spoke with two other women, and one gay male performer who has received actionable threats, each of which are terrified to experience Facebook changing their names without consent, or recourse.

Facebook maintains that its "real names" (aka "authentic names") policy is essential for user safety. It believes its "authentic names" policy protects users from abuse on the social network, "like when an abusive ex-boyfriend impersonates a friend to harass his ex-girlfriend" because "no one can hide behind an anonymous name to bully, taunt or say insensitive or inappropriate things." But rumblings about Facebook's real motivations -- to prioritize the financial value of its database are the inevitable chorus it receives in the media; Facebook's stock tanked in 2012 when it revealed 8.7 percent of its accounts to be fake.

Facebook maintains that its "real names" (aka "authentic names") policy is essential for user safety.

As Reed Albergotti wrote in The Wall Street Journal last year, "Facebook's advertising product, which will bring in an estimated $12 billion in revenue this year, rests almost solely on its ability to gather detailed, accurate information about users."

Either way, it's a hell of a database score, though it stands to reason there are humans in there somewhere: That Facebook is changing user names based on the submitted documents shows that Facebook is indeed recording submitted ID information with the user account record, somewhere.

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WARSZAWA, POLAND - APRIL 01, 2014: Loging in Facebook app on Iphone5s Facebook is the largest social network in the world.

It's interesting to note that databases such as this are usually subject to citizen protections; for instance, the Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) restricts what state motor vehicle departments can do with our driver's license data -- as well as who can handle that data.

Collecting passports, marriage certificates, state ID, birth certificates, library cards, Social Security cards, insurance cards and more as part of Facebook's identity verification data set must make for an unimaginably impressive candy store for governments, advertisers, stalkers, unethical corporations, and all the creeps in the internet's clown car.

As someone who writes about privacy and security for a living, I'd say it's easily one of the most dangerous, highly targeted, unregulated private databases on the planet.


But no matter its monetary value, the view from here looks as if the cost is too high.

[Image credits: Getty (Protest, Pride parade), Facebook (Lisbon), AP (Lil Ms. Hot Mess, Sister Roma and Heklina), Flickr (Driver's licenses), Shutterstock (Facebook app)]
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Re: Bernie Sanders Tells Berniebros To Knock It Off — ‘We Do

Postby admin » Tue Feb 09, 2016 6:30 am

A Glimpse From the Field: How Abusers Are Misusing Technology
by techsafety.org
February 17, 2015

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


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97% of programs report that abusers misuse technology to stalk, harass, and control victims.

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96% of programs report that abusers harass victims via text messaging.

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55% of programs report that offenders post abusive content about victims online.

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71% of programs report that abusers monitor victims' computer use.

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41% of programs report that abusers stalk victims using GPS.

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86% of programs report that abusers harass victims through social media.

The Safety Net Project recently surveyed victim service providers on the misuse of technology by abusers. Of the programs surveyed, 97 percent reported that the survivors they are working with experience harassment, monitoring, and threats by abusers through the misuse of technology.

Abusers in intimate partner violence misuse technology in many ways: to stalk and monitor victims, to harass victims through the “anonymity” of the technology, and to impersonate victims through technology, such as creating false social media accounts. The survey found that 79 percent of programs reported that abusers monitor survivors’ social media accounts, 74 percent report that abusers check victims by text messages, and 71 percent report that abusers scrutinize survivors’ computer activities.

Using technology to facilitate harassment of the victim is a major tactic by abusers, according to the reporting programs. Abusers harassing survivors via text messaging was reported by 96 percent of programs, while 86 percent reported that abusers harass victims through social media.


Of the type of technology misused by offenders, social media, text messaging, and email were the top three. It is not unusual that these three technologies should be reported the most abused by offenders. Abusers seek to disrupt and interrupt survivors’ lives. Stalkers gather information and monitor victims’ activities based on where they are and what they are doing. According to Pew Research Internet Project, 74 percent of adults who are online use a social networking site of some kind and 81 percent of adult cell phone owners send and receive text messages.

In fact, nearly all (99%) the responding programs reported that Facebook is the most misused social media platform by abusers. This finding is not shocking. Facebook is a platform in which abusers and survivors both engage in. With over 1.2 billion monthly active users, Facebook is a key place for offenders to access information about victims or harass the victim by directly messaging the victim or the victim’s friends and family. An advocate wrote: “Facebook is the hardest for survivors to shut down or avoid because they use it to keep in contact with other friends and family.”

Respondents to the survey also stated how difficult it is to “prove” that an abuser is behind the abuse. “Officers and state attorneys are saying that anyone could have posted those comments and pictures on Facebook, so proving in court that the abuser is doing it is very difficult,” noted one advocate. Advocates and survivors find it frustrating when they are told that it is impossible to trace harassing text messages or emails back to the perpetrator.

”A Glimpse From the Field” was conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence and funded under a grant awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.
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Re: Bernie Sanders Tells Berniebros To Knock It Off — ‘We Do

Postby admin » Tue Feb 09, 2016 6:35 am

A Glimpse From the Field: How Abusers Are Misusing Technology
Safety Net Technology Safety Survey 2014
© 2014 NNEDV

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

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This survey was conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence, which was funded under grant 2011-VF-GX-K016, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this survey are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department Justice.

Technology intersects with virtually every aspect of our daily lives. Through the use of technology, we can pay bills without using a stamp, brew coffee before even getting out of bed, and close the garage door from miles away. For survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and trafficking, however, technology can be both a great help as well as a tool that facilitates threats and harm. In an effort to understand the impact of abusers misusing technology and the types of technology used, the Safety Net Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) conducted a survey of victim service providers. This survey was conducted in the fall of 2014, with 346 respondents from 46 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Of the programs that responded, 97% indicated that victims who seek their services are being harassed, monitored, and threatened by offenders misusing technology. The majority of survey respondents were domestic violence programs (44%) or dual domestic violence and sexual assault programs (40%). Other service providers that responded include: programs serving victims of all crimes, law enforcement, sexual assault programs, civil legal services, prosecutor’s offices, trafficking, and other programs, including programs that provide services to elders; individuals with disabilities, including Deaf and Hard-of- Hearing; community health center; and general social services.

Survey Respondents

Type of Service Providers / Percentage of Respondents

Domestic violence program / 44%
Dual domestic violence & sexual assault program / 40%
Victims of all crimes / 5%
Law enforcement / 3%
Sexual Assault program / 2%
Civil legal services / 1%
Prosecutor’s offices / 1%
Trafficking / 1%
Other / 3%


Types of Abuse

Abusers misuse a variety of technology in order to monitor, harass, impersonate, or stalk victims. For the purpose of the survey, monitoring is defined as accessing survivors’ technology, either physically or remotely, to learn/know about their activities. Harassment is defined as using technology to annoy, threaten, harass, or intimidate survivors. Impersonation is defined as pretending to be the survivor or someone else as a tactic of further abuse. For example, the abuser may access the survivor’s accounts and send messages pretending to be the survivor, create accounts pretending to be the survivor, or spoof caller ID. Finally, tracking/stalking is defined as using location technology to track survivors’ location.

The survey results found that 79% of programs report that abusers monitor survivors’ social media accounts, 74% report that abusers monitor victims by text messages, and 71% report that abusers monitor survivors’ computer activities.

Misusing technology to harass survivors was another tactic that was highly reported. The top 3 types of technology that abusers used to harass survivors were through texting (96%), social media accounts (86%), and email (78%).

Monitoring via Technology

Type of Technology Misused by Offenders / Percentage of Programs Reported Social media accounts 79%

Text messaging / 74%
Computer / 71%
Email / 66%
Online accounts (phone, bank, etc.) / 57%
Apps on cell phones / 54%
Cell phone features (not apps) / 39%
Tablets / 39%
GPS tracking / 37%
Gathering online data about victim / 36%
Phone (not cell phone) / 31%
Assistive technology / 10%


Harassment via Technology

Type of Technology Misused by Offenders / Percentage of Programs Reported

Text messaging / 96%
Social media accounts / 86%
Email / 78%
Phone (not cell phone) / 59%
Posting abusive content online / 55%
Cell phone features (not apps) / 37%
Tablets / 37%
Apps on cell phones / 34%
Online accounts (phone, bank, etc.) / 26%
GPS tracking / 14%
Assistive technology / 6%


Impersonation via Technology

Type of Technology Misused by Offenders / Percentage of Programs Reported


Social media accounts / 57%
Text messaging / 44%
Email / 36%
Online accounts (phone, bank, etc.) / 30%
Posting abusive content online / 27%
Phone (not cell phone) / 14%
Assistive technology / 3%


Tracking/Stalking via Technology

Type of Technology Misused by Offenders / Percentage of Programs Reported


Social media accounts / 67%
Text messaging / 57%
Computer / 54%
Apps on cell phones / 52%
GPS tracking / 41%
Email / 40%
Cell phone features (not apps) / 34%
Online accounts (phone, bank, etc.) / 30%
Gathering online data about victim / 28%
Phone (not cell phone) / 19%
Assistive technology / 5%


Abuse Facilitated Through Social Media

Social media is a space in which abusers misuse frequently to monitor and harass survivors. As the charts above show, in terms of monitoring and harassment, social media and text messaging are the two types of technology most often used.

“Abusers create false social media accounts to impersonate survivors, and there’s very little we can do. It makes folks feel extremely vulnerable and disempowered.”

-- Survey Respondent


Facebook is the most misused platform by abusers, as reported by 99 percent of programs. It is unsurprising that nearly every program reported Facebook as the main social media abusers use to harass victims. With nearly 1.2 billion monthly active users, Facebook is a platform in which many people, including survivors and abusers, engage in. As one advocate noted in the survey, “Facebook is the hardest for survivors to shut down or avoid because they use it to keep in contact with other friends and family.”

Abusers go where survivors are, and they disrupt the technologies that survivors use. The technology itself does not necessarily increase or enhance abuse, but because the technology provides access to the survivor (or her/his information), it is the place where abuse occurs.

Social Media Platform Misused by Offenders / Percentage of Programs Reporting

Facebook / 99%
Twitter / 27%
Instagram / 25%
Craigslist / 15%
YouTube / 12%
Porn site / 10%
Tumblr / 4%
LinkedIn / 4%
Snapchat / 3%
Gaming site / 2%


Programs reported abusers misusing Twitter and Instagram at 27% and 25%, respectively. Other social media platforms in which less than 1% of programs reported as a place where abusers harass and harm victims were: Reddit, Ask.fm, Google+, Kik, Tinder, Yik Yak, Match.com, Fade, Pinterest, Topix, and other health and news sites. While programs reported fewer instances of abuse on these sites, it doesn’t necessarily mean that less abuse is occurring in these spaces or that these sites are safer. The low response could merely indicate that fewer survivors are using those platforms.

Nonconsensual Pornography (aka Revenge Porn)

In recent years, many states have passed legislation around the issue of revenge pornography, in which abusers or perpetrators post sexually explicit images or videos of survivors online. This can happen frequently in the context of domestic violence or sexual assault where the abuser posts images of survivors to humiliate or control the victim. In the survey, 55% of programs reported that the survivors they work with have had abusers post sexually explicit images of them online without consent.

Children

One of the many ways abusers control and monitor a victim is through their children. Sixty percent of programs reported that abusers have spied or eavesdropped on the children and the survivor through the use of technology. Abusers do this by giving gifts to the child or planting devices on the child’s belongings. The most popular technology misused by abusers through their children are cell phones (89% programs reported), followed by social networks (63%), and laptops (38%).

Children’s Technology Misused by Abusive Partner

Type of Technology Misused by Offenders / Percentage of Programs Report


Cell phones / 89%
Social networks / 63%
Laptops / 38%
GPS tracking devices / 23%
Toys with hidden “spying” technology / 11%
Handheld games / 7%
Game consoles / 5%


Advocates in the survey also noted that abusers, who are forbidden from contacting the survivor because of a protection order but have visitation or communication rights with the child, will use the children’s technology to try to contact the survivor –- either asking the child to share information about the survivor or using the child’s cellphone to contact the survivor. In some cases, abusers gather information about the survivor through social networks their children are a part of (66% programs reported this). Abusers use the information gathered to taunt or harass the victim or to discredit them in custody cases, as reported by 41% of programs. Abusers have also tried locating survivors through technology (45% programs reported this).

What Kind of Help Is Needed?

The survey also asked what kind of help survivors are asking for when they reach out for help. Most often, they are seeking assistance on how to use their technology safely, including how to use cell phones safely and how to use the internet more privately. The chart below describes the types of assistance requested and the percentage of programs that reported survivors asking for this help.

Type of Assistance Requested / Percentage of Programs Reported

General cellphone safety and privacy assistance / 76%
How to be safe online / 71%
Help around GPS/location tracking on phones / 58%
Technology and privacy issues associated with relocation 56%
Getting personal information or images off the internet / 53%
How to increase privacy when using computers or tablets / 51%


In general, survivors are asking for help figuring out how the technology stalking or harassment is occurring and what can be done to stop it. Advocates reported that when it comes to technology, it’s difficult to “prove” that the abusive person is behind the abuse. “Officers and state attorneys are saying that anyone could have posted those comments and pictures on Facebook, so proving in court that the abuser is doing it is very difficult,” noted one advocate. It’s not just Facebook or online abusive content that is perceived as difficult to prove. One advocate reported, “Our clients are regularly told that harassing text messages cannot be traced back to the perpetrator. This is disturbing to hear when it is clear that they are from the perpetrator.” These responses clearly show that there is a lack of understanding by service providers, including law enforcement and prosecutors, how technology works and how digital evidence can be preserved and documented. In both of the examples given, investigators could, through IP addresses, phone records, or other account information, show that the abuser was behind the threats and harassment.

Conclusion

As all of us, including survivors, use more technology in our daily lives and spend more time online and on our phones, it’s not surprising that abusers are also in these spaces. A common tactic of abusers is to control their victims, and they do that through monitoring technology use, online activities, or limiting victim’s contact with others. Technology is a tool that easily facilitates abusers’ control.

“We’re working with a 14-year-old girl whose abusive boyfriend created fake Facebook accounts and posted naked pics of her after inviting all her friends and family to be "friends.” The police won't take it seriously, Facebook says they can't really do anything to prevent it, and the community is bullying and blaming the victim.”


What is also clear in this survey is that survivors of abuse need help and assistance on what to do when abusers are misusing technology. In addition, service providers also need more education on how they can assist survivors. Survey respondents noted that they would like more trainings on basic safety planning around technology, how to enhance personal privacy, and how to detect spyware and GPS tracking/monitoring.

Through this Department of Justice funded project and survey, the Safety Net Project at NNEDV has been and will be developing resources and trainings to meet this need. For more information about resources that has been developed as part of this project, visit: techsafety.org/resources.

Limitations of This Survey

The results in this survey represent the percentage of local advocacy programs that responded to the survey, based on the experiences of survivors they assist. This data does not reflect the percentage of occurrences, prevalence, or incidences of abuse, harassment, or stalking experienced or reported by survivors or the percentage of abusers or stalkers who use these tactics. Offenders who misuse technology often misuse more than one type of technology and often perpetrate other forms of abuse, such as physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse.
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