Digital Ethics & Policy Symposium 2014

The 2014 Digital Ethics and Policy symposium brought to light many ethical problems that take place in the digital world. I started the day various speakers and stayed through till the keynote speaker Anita Sarkeesian. This keynote speech gave insight on the power online platforms have on harassment, slander, and much more. Anita gives us a look at how she is affected for simply stating her opinion on video games.

Anita Sarkeesian is known for being one of the main supporters of “GamerGate,” which is a controversy that concerns misogyny, sexism, and harassment in video games. Since stating her opinion, Anita has been the victim of shameful and disgusting harassment by gamers. From what I understand, Anita believes that these games act out this way because they feel threatened by women gamers and what their presence can do to influence the games. She has been unfortunately harassed through direct threats online, being superimposed on pornographic images, and much more. This online community has the idea that if they bring her down through these threats and harassments, she will give up her fight for equality in video games.

However, Anita is almost fueled by these negative comments. What this has done is expose her work and research to a larger group of people. It has essentially made her the face of women equality in video games. She also tackles the main idea of digital ethics. Why do these things happen? Why are they allowed to happen? There is no clear answer to these questions. Loopholes in the legal system along with the community the internet allows users to build, plays a big part in allowing these people to continue their agenda.

Cyber civil rights is being affected by these people online who believe it is “okay” to do these things with no consequences. Anita then spoke about ways to change these things and help improve cyber civil rights. Some of the suggestions she gave included: having a sharable block list, allowing friends of targets to report harassment, option to block any accounts that been recently created, option to block any user who has also been blocked, and blocking anonymous users. These are just some of the simplest changes that can be made in order to stop the harassment and violation of digital civil rights.

Overall the Digital Ethics and Policy symposium was very insightful. It was interesting to see the various views on digital ethics and what can be done to ensure that they are not violated. The event ran smoothly and the speakers were very knowledgeable on their topics. There was a lot of information I was exposed to that gave me a better idea on how communities online can have an impact either negatively or positively on various things. I did wish that Anita had been available for a public Q & A as opposed to the private Q & A. At times the event seemed like it would focus on one particular topic without expanding and giving a more thorough explanation of things. However, I did find the event informative and useful in providing insight on the digital world.


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