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Characterizations of Online Harassment: Comparing Policies Across Social Media Platforms

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Association for Computing Machinery


Harassment in online spaces is increasingly part of public debate and concern. Pervasive problems like cyberbullying, hate speech, and the glorification of self-harm have highlighted the breadth and depth of harassment taking place online. In this study we conduct a content analysis of the governing policies for fifteen social media platforms as they relate to harassment (of oneself and/or of community members) and other associated behaviors. We find that there is a striking inconsistency in how platform-specific policies depict harassment. Additionally, how these policies prescribe responses to harassment vary from mild censuring to the involvement of law enforcement. Finally, based on our analysis and findings, we discuss the potential for harnessing the power of the online communities to create norms around problematic behaviors.


Pater, Jessica A.; Kim, Moon K.; Mynatt, Elizabeth D.; Fiesler, Casey (2016): Characterizations of Online Harassment: Comparing Policies Across Social Media Platforms. Proceedings of the 2016 ACM International Conference on Supporting Group Work. DOI: 10.1145/2957276.2957297. Association for Computing Machinery. pp. 369–374. Sanibel Island, Florida, USA