The UX of online abuse

Implications of misogyny and other forms of online abuse in the shaping of collective memories

Online harassment and hate speech are specially targeted to women and underprivileged communities, at it has become a problem for sites such as Twitter, Reddit and Wikipedia. The possibility of the interface not being felt safe by the users endanger at least one of the three main principles of interaction design: that is pleasurability. However, user experience research is still lacking focus and a critical perspective on race, gender, and socio-economic backgrounds

Taking under consideration perspectives from media theory, memory theory and gender studies and centering the user experience of women and underprivileged communities as the main focus of inquiring, the present research takes an interdisciplinary approach to interrogate how online misogyny and other forms of abuse are perceived by communities placed outside the center of the hegemonic normativity, and how the user experience ofonline abuse is affecting the formation ofcollective memories in the context of online environments.

At the present time, a preliminary analysis of the data extracted from a still open general survey on media and memory (N=150 with a margin error of 7%) distributed online to a community of people interested in digital culture, shows a clear correlation between the susceptibility of the individual to be subject of online violence based on their identity idiosyncrasies, being this positive and “very prominent” when the subject shows characteristics other than the binary gender or non-diverse sexual orientation, and “remarkable” in the case of other categories of analysis, such as ethnic affiliation, age and socio-economic class.

Ethnographic observations and data harvested from social media networks containing examples of online misogyny and other forms of abuse will be used to analyze the relation between systemic bias and online abuse in the formation of collective memories (Data can be accessed HERE). The present research will also complicate the disruption and inhibition theories on the social sharing and reshaping of memories by Girst and Echterhoff (2001) by hypothesizing how hate speech may also disturb and/or disrupt the exploration experience of those targeted -in this case, women and underprivileged communities-, causing a disruption in their knowledge discovery experience.