Today’s Killer Startup: HeartMob
“HeartMob is a platform that provides real-time support to individuals experiencing online harassment and empowers bystanders to act.”
Why It’s A Killer Startup:
As a woman who writes online, often about feminist issues, I’m all too aware of the kind of scary harassment I’m potentially opening myself up to. While I’m not big time enough yet to have pulled the attention of the worst of the worst trolls, I’m ambitious and I know it’s probably in my future.
“Being harassed on the internet is such a normal, common part of my life that I’m always surprised when other people find it surprising,” feminist writer Lindy West says in her phenomenal piece in The Guardian.” You’re telling me you don’t have hundreds of men popping into your cubicle in the accounting department of your mid-sized, regional dry-goods distributor to inform you that – hmm – you’re too fat to rape, but perhaps they’ll saw you up with an electric knife? No? Just me?”
While Lindy undoubtedly faces more than most of us due to her fame, online harassment is a very real, very scary thing. Rape threats, murder threats, and releasing personal information online are all common forms of attack and, of course, feminist writers aren’t the only people who are harassed online. One only has to make a quick Google search to find scores of teens (usually, although not always, girls) who have taken their lives as a result of online harassment.
Up until now, no one has come up with a good solution on how to deal with online harassment. Local police don’t usually offer much more than a filed report — they’re ill-equipped to deal with what is a relatively new crime, and one that often happens across city and states boundaries.
HeartMob is a novel new approach to combatting online harassment. Conceived of and created by Hollaback!, the awesome organization that combats harassment in the streets, HeartMob will let people experiencing online harassment catalogue the abuse and make it either public or private. If they choose to go public, they can then decide whether they want “bystanders” (a term borrowed from street harassment meaning people who are observing the harassment) to intervene, take action, or support them.
The site will also offer resources to people being attacked online, including safety planning, ways to figure out if a threat is real, online harassment laws, how to report to authorities if that’s what they want, and referrals to counseling and legal services.
Hollaback! is currently running a Kickstarter campaign, looking to raise $10k in two weeks to develop the HeartMob platform. If you’re ready for the internet to have a real response to online harassment and bullying, go and donate now.
It’s time to fight back against online #harassment and #cyberbullying! #HeartMob from @iHollaback is on it!