An estimated 40 percent of Internet users have been harassed online, and a new service wants to help victims as it happens.
The anti-harassment group Hollaback! are currently fundraising for HeartMob, a platform launching in September that will provide real-time support to people being harassed online. HeartMob will also be open to volunteers who will provide support and assistance to people reporting harassment.
While HeartMob will welcome users of all genders, the platform is especially good news for women. According to Pew, women and young adults are "more likely than others" to experience online harassment, and women are more likely than men to find their experiences of harassment "extremely or very upsetting." Online, women are more vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking.
"For too long, many people have left online spaces because they feel unsafe or unsupported," the platform's Kickstarter page explains. "For too long, many of us have sat back and watched, unsure how to ask for help or how to provide support and resources. With HeartMob, you’ll have a system of supporters beside you, and a user-driven set of actions you can take right now to lend a helping hand."
HeartMob users will be able to report online harassment to the platform as it happens, either publicly or privately. If they choose to make the report public, they can select ways that they want HeartMob volunteers to help -- such as providing support through an online forum, or helping report their harasser to the relevant social network. Users who log on to volunteer will be able to see who needs their help, and in what way.
While social networks like Reddit and Twitter have recently pledged to ban revenge porn and take a stand against trolls, HeartMob will provide peer support and a community for victims of harassment.
"Let's reimagine an Internet where everyone is free to be their badass selves," HeartMob's introductory video concludes.
Learn more about HeartMob here.