Hollaback, the anti-harassment organization who gained attention for their 2014 controversial catcalling video, is now focusing their efforts on online abuse with the recently-launched HeartMob. The project, which was funded through Kickstarter last year, consists of a private platform that will help people who experience online harassment. The goal is to create a system of supporters for online abuse victims to ensure they find support in a safe space.
Hollaback co-founder Emily May told Bitch Media the project came out of being frustrated. “I was seeing all of my feminist friends leaving the internet because they were being harassed,” May said. “They’re ending their work because it’s not safe for them to be online anymore.”
According to the HeartMob website, users will maintain complete control over their reports:
Users who report harassment will have the option of keeping their report private and cataloguing it in case it escalates, or they can make the report public. If they choose to make it public, they will be able to choose from a menu of options on how they want bystanders to support them, take action, or intervene. Bystanders looking to provide support will receive public requests, along with chosen actions of support.
Users are also given resources such as, “safety planning, materials on how to differentiate an empty threat from a real threat, online harassment laws and details on how to report their harassment to authorities (if requested), and referrals to other organizations that can provide counseling and legal services.”
While there is plenty of work to be done in the case of creating cyberstalking and online harassment laws, a supportive network for online abuse victims is a really good thing to have in the meantime. HeartMob cites a 2014 Pew Research Center survey that shows 40% of people having been harassed online, with 92% being between the ages of 18 and 29.
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