What social platforms could do to fight online harassment (but obviously won’t)

What is not measured will not be designed.

1. Teach in context

Sharing photos online is a no-brainer. It is second nature to most online citizens. For many it is arguably the primary incentive for participating on the Internet. Yet few services will tell us what data a photo contains, what data they collect from the photos, and how it could be accessed by others — my obvious example being GPS location tags contained in the metadata of mobile snapshots.

  1. A message is displayed telling me “This photo contains map coordinates of the location the photo was taken. Our service will strip this information from the photo so that it is unavailable to others on platform X. Location information will be saved in our database so that we may provide more relevant ads for you.”
  2. The user would then be able to respond with a selection of options, such as “OK” / “Cancel upload” / “Tell me more” / “Change privacy settings”.

2. Allow incremental deblurring of potentially harmful content

Unsolicited dick pics are a societal issue. It is something many women are exposed to on a daily or weekly basis.

3. Provide reminders and time-outs for people to manage sensitive and intrusive content

It will still happen that I notice I am logged in on certain services on devices I haven’t used in years. Very little is done to help me stay aware of where my behavior is tracked. Location sharing is awesome but does it really benefit me to have it on all the time? Notifications for events can be great (or awful) but do I really want to keep getting notifications for a discussion happening a year after the fact?

  • Allow me to share my location on a time-limit of 1 hour up to 2 weeks, but then turn it off and allow me to reactivate.
  • Notifications likewise do not require the binary characteristics that are imposed on them today: on or off. Let them be on for a limited period of time so that I may re-evaluate. Maybe even let me choose between real-time or a batch notification on a specific time of day.



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Per Axbom

Per Axbom

Making tech safe and compassionate through design, coaching and teaching. Independent consultant. Co-host of UX Podcast. Primary publication: axbom.com