Thursday, December 4, 2008

Day 10: Controlling images-words ?| Secure online communications | Your right to privacy

On Day 10, please consider the state of your identity in on-line networks, especially social networks. TTBT women have many useful tools and apps on their website.

I want to talk about readers, audience, and the possible uses and abuses of social networking sites.....and what recourse we have when some one takes images and (mis)information and posts it to us and/or social networking sites.

Ultra Violet
has some interesting discussions started by Meena Kandasamy who had continued to grapple with a cyber-stalker, in "Self-expression and social networking sites" and pursuant discussions on readers and audience. After anonymous negative comments appeared based on a picture that she posted on her social networking site, she wrote:

Although one is aware that there are laws against defamation in place, how can these be put to use against anonymous trollers and orkut-scrap-posters and their like? Forget the case of independent writers, do we actually have any mechanism to punish ALL those who are abusive on the web because of the anonymity that it provides.

Recently Niveditha Menon asks what are "the voices in our head"? She discusses our abilities to name and/or articulate our experiences, picking our battles, and who is our audience? In particular,

how do we know who is in our heads when we write? Who are we writing for? Who are we writing against? Under what social pressures do feminist writers (whether male or female) articulate their experience? How do we know our “authentic” voice, given all this input from friendly and unfriendly sources?

Back to me (my puran-aged feminist self).....

Several important issues here....1) using writing and posting to clarify who we are, our place in the world and 2) then how our readers can take and use/mix/abuse our words, images, and some times actions. How much agency and control do we have over our own images, identities? TBTT and others stress using pseudonyms and many do.

At the same time, trolls and others hide behind their pseudonyms to stalk and provide misinformation about people, incidents, and episodes...once on the internet...this misinformation is very hard to scrub. As result, stalkers can pursue bloggers and/or people absconding on sexual assault or domestic violence felony charges can set up faux social networking identities complete with 'female friends' writing (interesting gender bending) and/or from the safety of their home country can continue to harass the plaintiff and their families via various internet ISPs...Others join in the discussion and gossip-adda of idiosyncratic personal matters rather than the broader and endemic issues of VAW and abuse. This is not an isolated incident...from some of my earlier writing but also some of my transnational emails and advocacy work on domestic violence.

So it's one thing to be clear on our voices, audiences, and purposes for writing, but what do we do when others hide in the anonymity of the internet and social networking sites and faux identities? Adda and gossip ensue?

Or how do we handle the announcement of beginning and ends of relationships via little symbols on Facebook? When relationships do not begin as we like and/or they end badly? Scorned persons? Or the uses of our images and videos by others, especially when be-friending people gives them access to our profiles and info? Or when disturbed former spouses-partners post pictures of their ex-partners on the internet-social networking sites. Or batterers claim that pictures of abused partners have been photoshopped....

These are also real experiences that brought me to Facebook, and also make me concerned about the uses-abuses of social networking sites. Hence I'm still looking for how we handle these situations...or when we discuss and use these sites to clarify such issues if that is possible giving the social constructions of our relationships and lives by multiple persons.

How do we handle when such (mis)information persists on the internet and is easily retrieved by searching on a person's name? I see these searches nearly every week on my blog. How do we handle troll comments on our blogs and sites?

Any thoughts? Suggestions?

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