I’ve been in the technology segment for most of my life and take pride in the fact that I’ve touched and mostly improved a wide range of products. It is hard to watch the attacks on Leslie Jones and not feel like far too many people are corrupting our hard work, turning products we developed to enrich people’s lives into tools used to hurt them instead.
After Gamergate, we instituted the Hack Harassment Pledge (#HackHarassment Pledge), which was supposed to be a process where we all stood up in defense of someone like Jones when an attack occurred. To say that our response was disappointing would be an understatement.
So, as we end the week, I thought I’d remind everyone that we need to stand together against malicious online behavior, or the social networks, forums and other electronic places we gather will be at risk of directed regulation. Homeland Security is now involved and it tends to hit problems with an overly big stick.
Let’s revisit why we set up the Hack Harassment Pledge and why we all should live by it if we want relatively free and open social networks and forums.
At the heart of this effort was Gamergate, which branded much of the industry surrounding video games unfavorably. In effect, a woman who had dared to break up with her boyfriend was publicly shamed on a massive scale, doing heavy damage to not only the image of the technology segment but pretty much every guy who played or coded games.
Intel got caught in the middle by making a really bad decision and backing the wrong side as a result. So, partially to make up for this, it backed an industry-wide effort and asked all of us involved in technology to take the Hack Harassment Pledge.
The idea was that this was our mess as an industry and we should all stand firm in an effort to correct the behavior of a few misguided and somewhat sociopathic individuals.
Online harassment has become a pervasive and often vicious problem with real-life repercussions. It has significant negative consequences for the wellbeing and safety of individuals and for the success of digital communities. Everyone – regardless of their identity, background, or beliefs – is entitled to an online world where they are treated with respect and are free from harassment.
In order to build a safer, smarter, and more inclusive experience online, I will recognize when harassment is occurring, responsibly speak up against it, and support those experiencing it by:
- Abiding by and upholding the same standards and values online that are expected offline and excepting that my online behavior has real-life consequences.
- Valuing and supporting diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and opinions.
- Actively participating in the movement to decrease the prevalence and intensity of online harassment.”
Generally living up to it means standing with people, even those you may not agree with, when they are attacked unreasonably and personally. This is not only the core of our concept of free speech but it is likely the only way we’ll prevent what could be be a massive government over-reaction should these attacks result in some kind of massive violent response.
This post is part of my effort to personally fulfill the pledge I made some time ago to stand with people like Leslie Jones. My only regret is that I waited too long to realize that the attacks on her qualified for the Hack Harassment Pledge.
All I ask is that you take a look at the Hack Harassment pledge and find it in your heart to take and live by it. At the very least, don’t allow yourself to become part of this problem. Tech should be full of joy, excitement, and discovery and shouldn’t be a tool used to take the sparkle out of anyone’s eyes. I hope you’ll join me in my #StandWithLeslie. I truly regret I didn’t stand up sooner.
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+.