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Boston University School of Law




Wouldn’t it be nice if the rules, agreements, and guidelines designed to prevent online harassment were sufficient to curb improper behavior? As if. Wrongdoers are not always so easily deterred. Sometimes these approaches are about as effective as attacking tanks with toothpicks.

As Danielle Citron contends in her critically important work, Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, the design of the Internet facilitates vitriol and abuse, even when it is legally, contractually, and normatively prohibited. Communicating almost effortlessly at distance—sometimes anonymously and typically with minimized body language—can heighten emotional detachment and blunt moral sensitivity. Tragically, when a mediated environment makes it easy to harass others, harassment occurs, all things being equal.

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