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Twitter partners with advocacy group to battle online harassment

Twitter recently announced that it would team up with a women's advocacy group to help fight female harassment online.

Twitter and advocacy group partner up to fight harassment 
Women, Action and the Media (WAM) created a form on Twitter where users can report instances of harassment. Reports that are submitted will be screened to determine validity, and those that qualify will be forwarded to Twitter, according to The LA Times. 

Using the form, women users will be able to report specific types of harassment. Examples of online harassment include identity theft, sending violent or sexual threats and harmful comments. Several other forms of harassment are clearly defined by the organization as well. Once Twitter receives a report, that particular issue is expected to be dealt with within 24 hours. WAM will also track responses in an effort to help improve policies and protocols on Twitter.

As per an October study conducted by Pew, 25 percent of young women online have experienced sexual harassment, and 26 percent have experienced stalking. Jaclyn Friedman, executive director of Women, Action and the Media, explained that harassment leads to the silencing of women online.

"The disproportionate targeting of women online results in them removing their voices from the public conversation," said Friedman, according to the news source.

Twitter chief executive answers questions on harassment policy
Chief executive officer of Twitter, Dick Costolo, answered questions about harassment on Twitter during a summer question-and-answer session, reported Wired. Since then, the social networking site has adopted an aggressive attitude toward dealing with offenders. Costolo announced in August that Twitter would deactivate all accounts that were spreading images of the ISIS beheadings as well as disturbing photos of Robin Williams after his death. While the partnership with WAM is primarily focused on gender-based issues, it will also make note of racist or violent threats.

In a statement on their website, WAM expressed its intention to learn more about the kinds of harassment that happen online.

"We're using this pilot project to learn about what kind of gendered harassment is happening on Twitter, how that harassment intersects with other kinds of harassment, and which kinds of cases Twitter is prepared [and less prepared] to respond to," WAM said, according to Wired.

On the Internet today, people express themselves freely. However, when that expression turns to harassment, efforts are made to prevent the behavior. The Internet facilitates the sharing of ideas and information through open channels of communication and sometimes those channels need to be cleansed of hatred and bigotry. 

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