WOMEN
08/13/2014 09:42 am ET Updated Aug 13, 2014

Women Pay The Price For The Internet's Culture Of Anonymity

Peter Dazeley via Getty Images

Gawker Media built an anonymous commenting system to encourage readers to share juicy gossip and sensitive news tips. What its women’s site, Jezebel, got was a “barrage” of violent pornography GIFs and gory JPEGs. You’d be forgiven for not being shocked: Women often pay the price when online publishers facilitate anonymity. Thanks to trolls like ViolentAcrez, Reddit became the internet’s top purveyor of photographs of scantily clad underage girls.When Twitter emerged as an organizing tool for feminists in the U.K., it also became the most convenient way for anonymous users to lob rape and death threats their way.

And Gawker’s Kinja platform offers jerks even more protection than Twitter or Reddit. Its “burner” accounts do not record users’ IP addresses, preventing Jezebel editors from blocking porn-spamming individuals and requiring them to manually delete each gruesome entry. After months of complaints, Jezebel staffers published an open letter on the site yesterday, calling out Gawker brass for “prioritizing theoretical anonymous tipsters over a very real and immediate threat to the mental health of Jezebel’s staff and readers.” Gawker Media editorial director Joel Johnson apologized for not giving the problem“proper attention” and promised to address it within a couple days. (Johnson just announced that Gawker will disable image uploads.)

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