Online harassment has been acknowledged as a problem from the early days of the internet.3,4,5 In 2014, a series of high profile cases pushed the issue to media prominence. Zelda Williams, daughter of actor Robin Williams, shut down her Twitter account for several weeks after large scale harassment followed her father’s death, prompting the company to revisit its policies.6,7 The GamerGate controversy—over tensions linked to growing gender and cultural diversity in videogames—saw numerous cases of online harassment. Harassment on Twitter associated with the controversy led game critic Anita Sarkeesian,8 game developer Zoe Quinn,9 and game developer Brianna Wu10 to flee their homes and cancel appearances after harassers published their physical addresses (a practice called doxxing), threatened them, and incited others to violence against them. In October 2014, the Pew Research Center published a study of the experience of online harassment in the United States: 40% of Americans have experienced harassment in some form.11
Debates about online harassment overlap with issues of free speech. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Elonis vs the United States, debating the limits of speech rights online in cases of threats of violence.12 Harassment can also be a means to silence the speech of others, especially women, an argument raised in a January 2014 Pacific Standard article by Amanda Hess13 and in an April 2015 Washington Post article by Twitter general counsel Vijayada Gadde.14 Many platforms have systems for reporting, reviewing, and responding to harassment.
Read Full Study REPORTING, REVIEWING, AND RESPONDING TO HARASSMENT ON TWITTER