French journalist is latest to be cyber-harassment target
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) supports a campaign of solidarity with Nadia Daam, a French radio and TV journalist who has been the target of online threats over her criticism of trolls, and condemns the increasingly frequent use of cyber-harassment with the aim of silencing journalists.
The threats against Daam have not been just virtual. She heard loud banging on the door of her home in the early hours of 2 November and reported the incident to the police, who registered it as a “threat of criminal violence.”
The incident was almost certainly liked to all the death threats and threats of rape and violence, some tinged with racism, that she has been getting since a report by her on Radio Europe 1 criticizing the trolls behind the sabotaging of an “anti-jerk” app used by women who are the victims of harassment in the street.
Daam is also a reporter for “28 Minutes,” a programme broadcast by the Franco-German TV channel Arte.
As well as threats, there have been attempts to hack into Daam’s instant messaging and social network accounts, according to the newspaper Libération. She has also received emails informing her that she has been registered on porn and paedophile websites with her home address. Her daughter has also been mentioned.
This means Daam has also been the victim of “doxxing,” in which cyber-bullies research and publish the personal details of the targets of their harassment campaigns. Those behind the campaign against Daam are said to be users of the 18-25 year-olds’ Forum at JeuxVideo.com, a website known for its misogyny and excesses.
Journalists often targeted by trolls
RSF backs the letter in support of Daam that has been published by Libération and voices its concern about the growing use of cyber-harassment both in France and internationally with the aim of silencing journalists.
“These online conspiracies, which take advantage of the virality of online networks, pose a threat to journalists that must be taken very seriously, said Elodie Vialle, the head of the Journalism and Technology Desk at RSF. This cyber-harassment particularly affects women journalists and those who investigate trolling, troll factories and cyber-bullying networks.”
Around two-thirds of women journalists worldwide have been the victims of harassment, according to a report by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). A quarter of this harassment takes place online.
The many journalists who have been harassed online internationally include Indian reporter Rana Ayyub, the author of the best-selling book “Gujarat Files,” who has been the target of online threats and hate messages from those who want to silence her.
Maria Ressa, the CEO of Rappler, a website in the Philippines, has received more than 80 threats, most of them online, in connection with her investigative reporting about President Rodrigo Duterte’s policies. Research into the IP addresses from which the threats were sent shows that they came from Duterte associates.
RSF issued a press release in September condemning the threats against Laura Kuenssberg, the first woman to be the BBC’s political editor. She now has a bodyguard as a result of receiving online threats since last year from opposition Labour Party supporters who accuse her of politically biased reporting.
France is ranked 39th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.