Jun 19, 2022 • 38M

Why harassment happens online

An interview with Alice Marwick, Associate Professor at UNC

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Untangled is a podcast about technology, people, and power.
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Hi, welcome back to the podcast edition of Untangled. You must be thinking “whoa, two podcasts in two weeks, you’re really working hard to produce that sweet, sweet content.” You’re right, I am! But, like any relationship, this is a two-way street, so please do your part by subscribing to Untangled on Apple or Spotify, and sharing this episode with a few friends.


This month I wrote about pseudonymity, harassment, and what they reveal about our relationship to technology. In the newsletter, I drew upon Alice Marwick’s model of “morally motivated networked harassment” to help contextualize the backlash to Katie Notopoulos’s story that revealed the real identities of the pseudonymous founders of the Bored Ape Yacht Club.

Marwick’s model is the best explanation for why harassment happens online that I’ve come across, so I was thrilled to host her on Untangled to dive into it. Marwick is an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she researches the social, political, and cultural implications of popular social media technologies. In this episode, we discuss:

  • The “morally motivated networked harassment” (MMNH) model and what it helps explain that we didn’t understand before.

  • The impact of networked harassment at an individual, group, and societal level.

  • Why social media companies aren’t designed or incentivized to address networked harassment.

  • How networked harassment relates to the process of online radicalization.

Listen to the end to hear what advice Marwick would offer her teenage self.

You can find more from Alice on Twitter.

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Until next time,


p.s. What’s the point of having a newsletter if you can’t wish your Dad a Happy Father’s Day? So - Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

I never really learned how to crack a crab but don’t worry, you taught me many other things. 🦀


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