Silenced by Free Speech: How cyberabuse affects debate and democracy

Binns, Amy orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9173-3108 (2017) Silenced by Free Speech: How cyberabuse affects debate and democracy. In: New Perspectives on Cybercrime. Palgrave Studies in Cybercrime and Cybersecurity . Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 159-174. ISBN 978-3-319-53855-6

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The early days of the internet promised freedom from prejudice thanks to anonymity, freedom from the gatekeepers of traditional media, and even freedom from ourselves thanks to the capacity to invent new selves. Pioneers believed this would herald true freedom of speech, but the reality has proved disappointing in terms of debate and democracy.
This chapter looks at the various ways some groups, particularly women, are drowned out by organised gangs, forced out through tactics such as doxxing and swatting, or simply forced offline through repeated abuse and harassment. It pulls together research from various organisations including the Guardian, domestic abuse charities and Demos, and examines the growth of online lynchmobs and the belief systems behind them.

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