Thursday 21 November 2013

Academics face the cybercreeps alone

Sara Perry, lecturer in cultural heritage management at the University of York, has surveyed professionals about their experiences of being harassed online after she was herself targeted. Dr Perry, along with colleagues at the University of Southampton, set up a survey to investigate the extent of online bullying and harassment among professionals.
Some 400 people participated, about 60 per cent of whom worked in higher education. More than 40 per cent of the 400 said they had experienced at least one inappropriate or uncomfortable communication via digital media during their working life, with the figure almost identical among men (41.1 per cent) and women (41.2 per cent). In four out of 10 cases, the unwelcome contact was made by someone the victims already knew offline, with just over a third of those who had been victimised (37 per cent) saying it had happened on five or more occasions. [...] Attacks on an individual’s professional or personal character accounted for 26 per cent of the abuses, while 6 per cent were categorised as “abusive/threatening”. The remaining 12 per cent were undefined. “The most disturbing finding was that the majority of people ignored what was going on and kept silent about it,” Dr Perry continued. She was also concerned that academics were more at risk than other professions because of the “impact agenda”, which pressured them into building a public profile – often by cultivating a strong online identity.
It is interesting to note that it is precisely the field of cultural heritage management and related issues which seems to attract this sort of cyber-sleaze, as a large number of inappropriate comments, threats and general abuse sent to this and Heritage Action's blogs well attest. Obviously the building of a public profile in anything related to that is taking a risk of interference by cybercreeps which it seems many would rather do without.  

Chris Parr, 'Academics face the cybercreeps alone', Times Higher Education Supplement, 21 November 2013 (Article originally published as: Put yourself out there, but you’re on your own with the cybercreeps).


Anonymous said...

It would have been interesting if she'd asked a series of questions to find what the victims knew about the nature of the perpetrators, if anything. In my experience they are of a very specific type.

Paul Barford said...

Well, as far as I can ascertain, despite the global coverage of this blog, all of mine are British and cannot spell. Must be something in the water.

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