This week, Alice Marwick published a new piece in Social Media & Society. “Morally Motivated Networked Harassment as Normative Reinforcement” explores how communities band together to reinforce their shared moral norms by harassing perceived violations of those norms.
She sums it up in a Twitter thread:
She finds that networked, coordinated harassment is done by all kinds of communities, from partisan political groups to fandoms. Though the origins of harassment are not necessarily identity-based, the resulting attacks use race, gender, sexuality, religion, and other attributes as vectors, making it more likely that people with marginalized identities will be harassed in ways that are intersectional/more harmful for individuals with multiple marginalized identities.
The key point is that while harrassers draw from identity-based stereotypes in their attacks, they understand their actions as morally justified and based in the target’s actions, rather than their identity. Alice offers two examples, “I’m not against Anita Sarkeesian because I’m a misogynist/anti-feminist, but because she’s a scammer/liar,” and “I’m not against the 1619 project/Nikole Hannah Jones b/c I’m racist/my white ID is threatened but because she’s a liar who hates white people and white children.”