Taylor Niwa Co-facilitation Computers and Culture Shaka McGlotten

bonesworshipAI and Robotics

Nov 14, 2013 (3 years and 8 months ago)


Taylor Niwa


Computers and Culture

Shaka McGlotten

Analysis on Cyber Rape

Technologies rapid growth has opened up the lines of communication in an
entirely new way. The internet

allows ease of access to information, however this
does not come without risk. Although widely used, the internet poses dangers to
unsuspecting victims. The threat of cyber rape, abuse and aggression does not target
specific people, and all are at risk fo
r experiencing some degree of abuse via the
internet. Instances vary from the extreme, such as Justin Berry's public child
pornography case, to LambdaMOO's virtual sexual harassment instance. Although
much of the focus on the topic of cyber rape is directe
d towards protecting
unsuspecting teens, everyone can become a victim. Factors such as rapid
technological advancements, increased access to the internet, open source
communication, and anonymity, all contribute to why this topic is an ongoing issue.
In cr
eating our artifact we took an in
depth look at these themes and incorporated
them into our machinema, and illustrated a story which mimics these threats.

Throughout our research, much of the data indicated that men were often the
sexual predators. Es
pecially in Eichenwald's New York Times article on Justin Berry,
all the predators he refers to involved in the case were male. An article we found
threw a wrench in the gender role, refuting the stereo type that only men participate
in these instances of
lewd conduct. An scenario was documented that a Woman had
had been convicted of victimizing a 15 year old boy through World of Warcraft. We
made this a strong theme within our machinema, but also flipped the gender roles of
the avatar. The predator here pl
ays a male character, and the young boy plays as a
sexualized female blood elf. Based from the article, we chose the ages for our
characters to simulate the document.

The use of an avatar allows for people to hide or change their identity.
Through the
dialogue between our two characters, the audience understands that
the predator is withholding some information about her age. At first the two
exchange photos of themselves through email, and so the victim is under the
impression that the woman he is spea
king to is around his age. Later as their
relationship and story develop, she confesses to him that she is not actually as
young as she says she is. She initially lied about her age to make him feel
comfortable in confiding and trusting her. Once she had g
ained his trust she found it
appropriate to confess her true identity. According to the Caucus article, "Eighty
percent were quite explicit about their sexual intentions with the youth that they
were communicating with." (pg 4). They continue to say that t
he predators were
also open about their sexual intentions. The manipulation takes place when these
older predators have the victim fall in love, or develop some type of strong bond,
however in our machinema hiding her age was important to lure the victim t
o reach
this stage of trust.

The interactions between the characters project the experiences which lead
to the manipulation of the prey. Upon researching the reading materials, both
Eichenwald and the Caucus article agree that children and teens are lu
red into these
sexual acts because the predator had manipulated them into a false sense of
security. "but they are criminal seductions that take advantage of teenage, common
teenage vulnerabilities." "To Justin, they seemed just like friends, ready with
mpliments and always offering gifts."

The predator targets the female blood elf, because this is a sexualized avatar
in World of Warcraft and the player's actions tell how he is new to the game. He has
now become an easy target in our story and easily
befriended. As their bonds
strengthen through interactions in the game, the predator starts to bribe the prey
with gifts and eases her way into asking for more virtual sexual favors. The prey is
easily pursuaided because throughout our story he is under th
e impression that he
is communicating with a friend. The predator offers gifts, armor and gold for 'small'

The parents role in the machinema is subtle, yet important. When the young
boy tells his new friend that his parents cancelled his descrip
tion to World of
Warcraft he can no longer interact with his female counterpart in their familiar
world. The inclusion of his parents role has a deeper meaning besides merely telling
him to stop playing. It sets an instance where it gives the two more init
iative to meet
in person, but also describes parent's roles in their attempt to protect their children
from the dangers of the internet. Signals such as dropping grades and excessive time
on the computer were indicators for his parents to take action. Thei
r solution was to
limit his internet and computer usage. Experts say however in The Caucus advisory
article, that the most effective way to stop the potential danger is to be proactive
and not reactive. Parents need to become more educated in the realities

of these
potential risks, and open a line of communication to their teens. Justin Berry's story
as told by Eichenwald and further paraded by the media, actually encouraged
technophobia amongst parents with little to no experience with the internet.
iting internet usage does not solve the problem, as indicated by the experts in
the Caucus Advisory article.

Ideally, parents need to rely on statistics rather than
media hype in order to understand how to handle a situation such as this in the
event this
does occur. In the machinema, limiting internet usage for the teen does
not do the job of teaching him the danger, that is why he was willing to meet her in

The virtual world becomes a reality when the two decide to meet. The bridge
between the v
irtual and reality are already indicated from the beginning of the
machinema, although it is not obvious at this point. The combination of RL footage
and footage of WoW's virtual world indicate the mesh of real and virtual. This
emphasizes why these danger
s of attack via the internet should be taken seriously.
Because what seems to be 'fake' actually leaks into real life. The interactions online
have real meaning to the prey, and that is why he is persuaded to meet his new
'friend'. This is a literal link b
etween VL and RL. There is no differentiation between
the feelings that the two have developed for each other virtually and in reality. "A
Rape in Cyber Space" by Julian Dribble is an example of how instances occurring in
cyber space can have real life det
rimental effects. The hacker program Voodoo Doll
developed by the user, Mr. Bungle forced avatars in LambdaMOO say grotesque
statements, thus sexually harassing those belonging to the LambdaMOO community.
She begins her article with this statement: "They s
ay he raped them that night. They
say he did it with a cunning little doll, fashioned in their image and imbued with the
power to make them do whatever he desired." Her description left no room to for
the reader to determine the difference between Real Lif
e and Virtual reality. The
victims of the voodoo doll hack were one of the first instances that this chat and
adults had experienced this sort of attack.

As mentioned earlier,

one must analyze the data in which the Caucus
Advisory provides since their r
esearch shows that the circumstances in which
extreme cases like Justin Berry's occurs is rare. However many parents are scared of
how to handle a situation such as this because of articles such as Kurt Eichenwald's.
It is argued that his methods are quest
ionable, and choice of writing, knowing it
would cause a media frenzy. There is a discrepancy between the two articles that
should be noted. However, the artifact our group created was based on a true story,
reflecting an example of one of these extreme ca

The video reflects all of these
qualities associated with cyber abuse. More research is being done on our new
access of information and communication. These once hidden secrets are unraveling
as they become public.



Eichenwald, "Through his Webcam, a Boy Joins a Sordid
Online World" the New York Times, December 19th, 2005,


2) Julian Dibbell, "A Rape in Cyber Space,"


3)Internet Caucus Advisory Committee, "Just the Facts about
OnlineYouth Victimization: Researchers Present the Facts and
Debunk the Myths,"