While some dismiss this growing problem of online harassment as simply harmless male trolls spewing their venom, such abuse is driving women journalists off the web. Why the differential between threats to women and men? The answer lies in persistent stereotypes about women, power and speech.
At Excelsior Middle School in Byron, California, a fake Facebook page was created to poke fun at a teacher. This act of deception and meanness prompted a reaction that has brought together students and teachers for a common cause by creating kindness through positive messages.
In the midst of these exchanges about online and offline harassment, there have also been many solemn declarations that such abuse is the "price we pay" for free speech, or even more grandly, for a free society. There's much to be debated in this assertion.
A division between the "real world" and the virtual one has never existed where women are concerned and yet, this idea, enshrined in technology as a "disembodiment" pervades our attitudes, laws, social media policies and law enforcement.
As a parent and cyber advocate, I have browsed many teens' Facebook pages and have been stunned at the snapshots I see. Although I err on the side of caution, I'm confident many of these photos could easily be manipulated into revenge porn.
While online computer exploration opens a world of possibilities for children, it can also open the door to dangerous sexual predators, cyberbullying and interactions with financial and legal consequences.
With millions of students returning to schools across the country over the coming weeks, dedicated educators and concerned parents must work together to find a solution to the U.S. bullying epidemic in order to establish safe learning environments for all students.
Twitter has been a space to share information but it has also been a space where civility can be thrown out the window, free speech is hailed and abused and where the silencing of individuals, particularly women and minorities, has become commonplace.
Threats like this are not harmless expressions of free speech. They're akin to hate speech and are maliciously intended to intimidate and silence. Messages like this don't make women feel safe. And that's the point, isn't it -- to make sure our gendered safety gap stays constant.
Public space has traditionally been an entirely male sphere. It's only recently that this has begun to change. But, like street harassment, rape and physical assault, online abuse is largely tolerated. And, like harassment, women are supposed to quietly adapt.