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8.09.2013

Silence is Never the Answer When It Comes to Bullies and Trolls



By now you’ve probably heard of #twittersilence—a day of silence to protest abusive trolling on twitter. After reading the Daily Beast article about it on Aug 2 and seeing #twittersilence trending on Aug 3, I participated in the tweets but was soon astonished to see author Maureen Johnson participating. Not only was Maureen Johnson a twitter troll, having participated in several online attacks against me, Maureen Johnson was someone who egged on my stalkers and thought it was hilarious that they were sending me threats, as did her author friend, Victoria Strauss. Apparently, author Maureen Johnson also blogged recently about how she wished “all stalking would end.” Odd as she and her friends goaded on my stalkers with their words and actions time and again.

Participating in the #twittersilence wasn’t about Maureen Johnson, however. It was about raising your voice or taking a silent stand. Hundreds raised their voices and spoke out against bullies and trolls. Hundreds took a silent stand and did the same.

Personally, I was glad to see twitter take a decisive stand so quickly. Amazon had allowed my readers to be harassed and attacked on its site for years and had never done anything about it, except to punish readers who dared to report the problem while often allowing the harassers to continue without consequence. Why? Because Amazon chose to ignore the problems and pretend such problems don’t exist. Hello, Amazon, when you allow discussions and comments on your site, such problems will and do exist.

Perhaps Amazon will learn a few lessons from Goodreads.com, a company Amazon recently acquired. When faced with similar problems, Goodreads.com didn’t ignore the problems or pretend they didn’t exist. Goodreads.com took action.

In 2012, Goodreads.com added privacy controls to profiles to control who can see member profiles. Members also were then able to control who could follow their reviews, who could send them private messages, who their email address could be shared with, who their reviews could be shared with, and who could see their birthdate and age.

In late 2012, Goodreads.com banned sexual role-play in its discussion forums. Although sexual role-play was a large part of its daily traffic, Goodreads.com took this step to help ensure the safety of children at its site. Why such a site ever allowed sexual role-play is another matter altogether, but at least thousands of children who participate in Goodreads.com are safer now.

In early 2013, Goodreads.com took action again to prevent harassment and intimidation by adding an option to ensure only friends of a member could comment on a member’s reviews and profile.

All these things together make Goodreads.com a better, safer site. Your turn, Amazon. You willing to make your site a harassment/troll-free zone?

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