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Sometimes, the abuse can get physical: A Pew survey reported that five percent of women who used the Internet said “something happened online” that led them into “physical danger.” And it starts young: Teenage girls are significantly more likely to be cyberbullied than boys.

Under the glare of international criticism, the police and the company spent the next few weeks passing the buck back and forth.

But making quick and sick threats has become so easy that many say the abuse has proliferated to the point of meaninglessness, and that expressing alarm is foolish.

Reporters who take death threats seriously “often give the impression that this is some kind of shocking event for which we should pity the ‘victims,’” my colleague Jim Pagels wrote in Slate this fall, “but anyone who’s spent 10 minutes online knows that these assertions are entirely toothless.” On Twitter, he added, “When there’s no precedent for physical harm, it’s only baseless fear mongering.” My friend Jen Doll wrote, at The Atlantic Wire, “It seems like that old ‘ignoring’ tactic your mom taught you could work out to everyone’s benefit.... Which means we shouldn’t take the bait.” In the epilogue to her book , Hanna Rosin—an editor at Slate—argued that harassment of women online could be seen as a cause for celebration. Many women on the Internet “are in positions of influence, widely published and widely read; if they sniff out misogyny, I have no doubt they will gleefully skewer the responsible sexist in one of many available online outlets, and get results.” So women who are harassed online are expected to either get over ourselves or feel flattered in response to the threats made against us.

I’ve spent countless hours over the past four years logging the online activity of one particularly committed cyberstalker, just in case.

And as the Internet becomes increasingly central to the human experience, the ability of women to live and work freely online will be shaped, and too often limited, by the technology companies that host these threats, the constellation of local and federal law enforcement officers who investigate them, and the popular commentators who dismiss them—all arenas that remain dominated by men, many of whom have little personal understanding of what women face online every day.

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