From one of Canada’s foremost investigative writers, a groundbreaking exposé on the motives and machinations behind cyberabuse – tormenting, trolling, harassment, cyberbullying, stalking, and sexual extortion – and the toll it is taking on children, youth, and adults around the world.
It seems as if each week our news broadcasts, newspaper headlines, Twitter feeds, and Facebook timelines are dominated by stories of cyberbullying and other digital abuse. This isn’t the playground teasing and name-calling of generations before the Internet. This new abuse’s unique characteristics – anonymity, permanence, and viral audience – can relentlessly exacerbate the humiliation, pain, and danger of its victims.
Ugly rumours that once snaked through school hallways and around the office water cooler are now delivered at lightning speed to the world, while sexual extortion and revenge-porn sites target those who’ve shared intimate images or had them stolen by hackers. Cyberstalkers who target adults destroy reputations and careers. And the splendid connectivity of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, also makes us vulnerable to “interpersonal terrorism,” while apps that promise privacy and rapid deletion are ridden with loopholes.
With vivid reportage, Paula Todd goes deep into the world of “extreme mean,” uncovering the people who use the Internet to undermine lives rather than improve them. Through exclusive personal stories of online abuse from around the world, including the suicide of Amanda Todd and the untold costs of Rebecca Black’s experience as “the most hated girl on the Internet,” as well as interviews with troll-tormentors, accidental abusers, victimized kids, and adults, Extreme Mean explores the often surprising roots of online abuse, challenges current academic thinking, and offers new ways of understanding the nasty and the nefarious who erode humanity and threaten Internet freedom.
Provocative, astute and compelling, Extreme Mean is a shocking yet inspiring illustration of behaviour that affects all of us. It’s a call-to-arms for change, and a search for ways to turn a moral panic into a moral possibility.