What It's Like to Be a Target on the Internet Every Day: Brianna Wu and Shireen Mitchell at #BlogHer15
Brianna Wu is a video game developer. She’s an entrepreneur, a blogger, and a podcaster. For the last year, she has also been a target. She is often cited as one of the primary targets in an ongoing online campaign to intimidate, threaten, harass, and ultimately endanger prominent women in the gaming community. Brianna joined us at #BlogHer15 to share her experiences.
Brianna told a packed ballroom she's been targeted as a woman in tech since she entered the space, with that bullying reaching a fever pitch in the past year. Beyond her, though, she said it's reached such a critical point that it can no longer be ignored.
Shireen Mitchell joined Brianna in conversation. Shireen is the founder of Digital Sisters, the first organization specifically focused on women and girls of color in technology and digital media. As the current chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations, Shireen developed and is currently running the Stop Online Violence Against Women (SOVAW) project—an initiative in which she is collaborating with legislators to bring women who had equally offensive and scary experiences as Brianna to the forefront.
The discussion ran from big media sites like Reddit to technology conventions to the wild West of Twitter and how the threats are handled by law enforcement. Brianna described having to explain Twitter to police in an effort to get justice against her attackers.
Shireen noted that part of the problem, in her opinion, is that white men are trying to hire dark-skinned, female versions of themselves, and that is not diversity.
The internet has brought us community, friendship, and a space for creative work and business. While it is mostly a safe space, the internet is sometimes a breeding ground for trolls and threats. Brianna Wu and Shireen Mitchell remind us to demand safer spaces online for everyone. Brianna and Shireen are at the forefront of that work—but they can't do it alone.