Three-quarters of Americans believe that hacking into someone's account and posting their personal photos online rises to the level of harassment, according to a new poll published today by Rad Campaign and Lincoln Park Strategies.
The poll, the latest in a series of findings on public attitudes to online harassment and privacy issues, also shows a clear majority – 66%--calling for tougher laws to crack down on the largely unregulated arena of online harassment.
The findings, which have particular resonance in the wake of "Celebgate", "Gamergate" and other widely publicized instances of sensitive private data leaking online, will be the subject of a panel discussion in Washington, DC this Thursday with experts from Rad Campaign, Lincoln Park Strategies, Feministing and The Women's Media Center.
Most poll respondents were clearly troubled by episodes such as the public release of almost 500 private pictures of celebrities including nude shots of Jennifer Lawrence and Kirsten Dunst. Almost a quarter of respondents, however, said they saw no legal problem with it, and that anything unearthed online was fair game.
"There is a cultural war erupting," said Allyson Kapin, co-founder of Rad Campaign, which harnesses the power of the web to push political advocacy and social change. "We are witnessing the horrifying real-life effects it's having on women, whether they are famous or not. It's critical that we come up with viable solutions to fight this harassment because right now there are no clear laws, legislation, or social media policies addressing this issue effectively."
The poll data can be viewed in an infographic at http://www.onlineharassmentdata.org/celebgate.
"There has been a lot of coverage in the news recently about Celebgate and Gamergate," said Stefan Hankin, president of Lincoln Park Strategies. "What has been missing from the discussion is how the general public feels and how prevalent online harassment is. This panel will not only walk through public sentiment, but also discuss how these issues affect ordinary people, not just celebrities."
The dynamic panel includes Katherine Cross, Sociologist and writer at Feministing, Stefan Hankin of Lincoln Park Strategies and Shireen Mitchell of Women's Media Center. Moderator is Allyson Kapin of Rad Campaign and Women Who Tech.