The complexities of combatting cyberbullying and harassment

As we live in an increasingly internet-driven world, it should come as no surprise that online or cyberbullying is a problem of growing significance and impact, one that actually seems to have worsened during the pandemic. In 2022, nearly half of all teenagers experienced some form of online bullying or harassment. But what may be less well understood is beyond the mental and emotional impact, online harassment can also pose a risk to an individual’s personal data and financial security. Joining me to help explore this topic is Lisa Yeo, a professor with the University of California MERCED. We’ll talk about the work she has been doing to combat online bullying and harassment and how this fits into the larger discussion of security and privacy.

So my personal touchpoint is really Gamergate. And I’m not sure how many people are familiar with it but it was essentially an online harassment campaign targeting women in the gaming industry, and specifically there were three people. There was a journalist and media critic Anita Sarkeesian and two game developers, Zoë Quinn and Brianna Wu, who really sort of took the brunt of this. And for me, as a woman who worked in IT, it was really just this huge confluence of why women don’t work in IT. So there is this big concern that we’re underepresented to begin with so the way this harassment campaign really exploded was very personally distressing and personally where I very much wanted to see what I could do.

Interviewed this episode:

Lisa Yeo

University of California MERCED

Dr. Lisa Yeo is an Assistant Professor in the Ernest & Julio Management Program at UC Merced. She is a collaborative problem solver who helps decision makers understand their operational challenges and identify solutions; she helps organizations understand how to safely govern the data and information they need to compete.

Yeo challenges students & industry to consider the security & privacy impacts of Information Systems and Technology so that they can build a solid foundation and respect different experiences with technology. By focusing on people and process, she encourages organizations to design and build information systems that make it easy to protect privacy and prevent security breaches without requiring extensive investments in security layers after the fact.
Prior to her return to academia, Yeo worked in information security for 15 years as both a technical specialist and a business adviser. During this time, she wrote the book Personal Firewalls, protected the IT infrastructure of the Alberta Legislature, and guided the secure connection of all public libraries in Alberta as part of the Alberta SuperNet project. Yeo holds a B. Math in Applied Math from the University of Waterloo and an MBA and PhD (Operations & Information Systems) from the University of Alberta.

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