The emergence of the online participatory culture has created new opportunities for the traditional passive consumer to transform into an active consumer. The invention of digital technologies and social media allowed individual voices to be heard. Majority of online content is dominated by men as a result there is a lesser participation of woman online. This may potentially raise a cause of concern surrounding the gender gap. Throughout the world social media platforms were used in an ethical way to post and share content. However, over the last decade a gloomy shadow has been casted over the online participatory culture.
The freedom of individual expression online has resulted in cyber bullying, trolling, sexism, racism, exclusion and misogyny. In particular, women have been the target of violent, offensive and threating comments posted online. Many cyber-bullies hide behind an unrevealed identity and this allows them to continue to cause emotional hurt to their victem. Female journalists that interact with content online and contribute to national debates have become the victem’s of cyber bulling (Thorpe & Rogers, 2011). The increase of misogyny online has caused widespread fear amongst female writers globally. It is very important for users online to respect the viewpoints of women because their voices have the right to be heard as well.
Due lack of authority online, trolls continue to post offensive comments on various networking sites. In 2012, TV personality Charlotte Dawson became the target of online Twitter trolls, who launched a campaign of hate mail and death threats. The Social networking sites, such as Twitter facilitated the cyber bullying. Each Twitter post ended with the hashtag ‘#diecharlotte’, which indicates how disturbed and twisted the minds of the twitter trolls are. You have to wonder what kind of morals and respect for humanity these twitter trolls have. Whilst Twitter rules state users cannot post illegal material or post direct threats, it did not prevent the Twitter trolls from tweeting such comments as ‘Go hang yourself’. After receiving numerous threatening tweets, Dawson could no longer put up with the cyber bullying and attempted to commit suicide. On her Twitter account she signed off with the disturbing message ‘you win x’. It is evident, cyber bullying via social networking sites can harm an individual’s well-being.
The online participatory culture has created new opportunities for women but at the same time has brought fear amongst women. Various social networking sites have created a safe haven for trolls to cyber bully and display misogyny. As a result, Governments need to take action and address the issue of cyber bullying of women online. Ultimately, Women need to feel safe online and be treated with respect.
Thorpe, Vanessa (2011) Women bloggers call for a stop to ‘hateful’ trolling by misogynist men, The Guardian, Sunday 6 November, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/05/women-bloggers-hateful-trolling