Study Finds Female-Name Chat Users Get 25 Times More Malicious Messages - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 06-06-2012, 12:11 PM
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http://www.ece.umd.edu/News/news_story.php?id=1788
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A study by the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering found that chatroom participants with female usernames received 25 times more threatening and/or sexually explicit private messages than those with male or ambiguous usernames.

Female usernames, on average, received 163 malicious private messages a day in the study, conducted by Michel Cukier, assistant professor in the Center for Risk and Reliability in the Clark School’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and an affiliate of the university's Institute for Systems Research (ISR) and Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE), and ECE sophomore computer engineering student Robert Meyer.

The study focused on internet relay chat or IRC chatrooms, which are among the most popular chat services but offer widely varying levels of user security. The researchers logged into various chatrooms under female, male and ambiguous usernames, counted the number of times they were contacted and tracked the contents of those messages. Their results will be published in the proceedings of the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers International (IEEE) Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks (DSN '06) in June.

"Some messages to female usernames were innocuous, while others were sexually explicit or threatening," Meyer says. Harmless messages included "helo" and "care 2 intro?" Tamer examples of malicious messages included:

[10:30] [charm] feeling horny?

[10:43] [DanMan] Do u need money? Looking for someone who does not mind providing personal intimate services. $150/hr. Serious offer. 178 74 male 29 here. Interested pls intro?).

The researchers also determined that simulated users or "bots" are not behind most of the malicious messages. "The extra attention the female usernames received and the nature of the messages indicate that male, human users specifically targeted female users," Cukier said.

"Parents should consider alerting their children to these risks, and advising young people to create gender-free or ambiguous usernames. Kids can still exercise plenty of creativity and self-expression without divulging their gender," Cukier says.

"Gender stereotypes and gender-targeted messages are very prevalent in internet chat rooms. Some people use the protected anonymity of the Internet to send provocative messages, often basing their assumptions about the recipient of the messages on very little information," adds Melanie Killen, professor of human development at UM's College of Education and associate director of the Center for Children, Relationships and Culture. "Parents should be very concerned, but they are closing their eyes to it because they don't know how to deal with it."

Killen advises parents to start talking with their kids around age 10. She urges parents not to use heavy-handed warnings or to ban their children from chatting online. Both are strategies that the child might ignore or that could make them even more likely to explore.

"Sit down and have conversations on a regular basis on what they’re doing, what’s involved," she says. "A lot of kids are very naïve about this and feel it won't happen to them."

Though female users are targeted more often, this doesn't mean boys won't be exposed to the same disturbing content, Killen says.

"Boys can be preyed upon too. And boys could be the ones doing it and thinking it's not harmful," she says.

Do you agree with this study? Does your personal experience reflect it?

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#2 Old 06-06-2012, 12:51 PM
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Agree 200 per cent.



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#3 Old 06-06-2012, 03:26 PM
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They focused on IRC?  I wonder what servers and channels they used.

 

*digs up study*

 

"The channels chosen for the experiments described in this paper all met the criteria of being used primarily for chat, not requiring passwords for entry and allowing bots. They were #teens (in the GalaxyNet network), #guildwars and #wow (both in QuakeNet), #usa and #allnightcafe (both in UnderNet), #chat and #poker (both in EFNet). The experiments include real and simulated users."

 

Ugh.  #wow and #guildwars?  #teens?  #chat and #allnightcafe?

 

I think I see part of the problem.

 

Also:

(NSFW language) (Click to show)

 

 

 

pix_plz.png

 

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#4 Old 06-06-2012, 04:46 PM
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It doesn't surprise me, but I can't say whether my personal experiences reflect it since I've never used a female name in a chat room.

 

Also, I doubt many kids are using IRC these days, but I could be wrong.

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#5 Old 06-06-2012, 07:27 PM
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I'm not surprised.

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#6 Old 06-06-2012, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Werewolf Girl View Post

Do you agree with this study? Does your personal experience reflect it?

My experience with this kind of thing is why I generally choose gender neutral names for message boards and such.

 

And ironically, people nearly always assume I'm a male at first - which might often be assumed to be the gender neutral default...


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#7 Old 06-07-2012, 06:58 AM
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Still quiet a lot of children on irc as far as i know concentrating on the geeky and gaming and illegal channels.

 

But it is logically in decline taken out by skype.

 

I agree that the study is badly done but i nevertheless agree with the conclusions.



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#8 Old 06-07-2012, 11:00 AM
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I've never heard of the chat rooms they are talking about, but I absolutely believe it. I stopped using my own picture as my avatar here because I got several unwanted PMs from male members long-banned. And we're a very tame, friendly Internet community. 

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#9 Old 06-07-2012, 11:24 AM
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I pretty much stopped using any IM service, IRC, chatroom, etc., when I was 16 because they started to bore me. From 16 back to 10 (and even younger...), I pretty much had "girlish" usernames and that definitely did attract negative attention. I could have been inactive in chat for a long time, and new people that would come in would send messages, using my screenname as an assumption of my gender.

Since then I pretty much stick to neutral screennames online, but since I don't use chats anymore, I don't personally know if there is a difference (however I don't doubt it one bit).

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#10 Old 06-07-2012, 02:31 PM
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What I really like about IRC is that it seems to work better for low-volume channels, especially when seeking help or technical support.

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#11 Old 06-07-2012, 04:06 PM
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Yes, this is accurate. My experience mimmics it too. Both on IRC (which I don't use anymore) and also on facebook. I used to use male pseudonyms because of that fact.

 

But FYI I looked up the study and it was published in 2006.

source: http://www.newsdesk.umd.edu/sociss/release.cfm?ArticleID=1273

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#12 Old 06-07-2012, 10:17 PM
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I don't use chatrooms anymore but this sounds about right. Based on this I usually use gender neutral names.

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#13 Old 06-09-2012, 05:57 PM
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If I send someone a private message, I usually just say "Hey." It's a very simple greeting. I don't understand why that isn't good enough for anyone, even if they're sexually interested in someone. That can be gradually eased into later in the conversation, can't it? If it's not that type of chatroom, it probably shouldn't even be brought up at all unless you've been talking to someone for a while. That's just rude. You wouldn't do that at your job or school so why do it behind a computer screen?


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#14 Old 06-20-2012, 04:46 AM
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I've got a few friends this way...... they start talking to me because they get sick of everyone else.


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#15 Old 06-20-2012, 10:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by das_nut View Post

They focused on IRC?  I wonder what servers and channels they used.

*digs up study*

"The channels chosen for the experiments described in this paper all met the criteria of being used primarily for chat, not requiring passwords for entry and allowing bots. They were #teens (in the GalaxyNet network), #guildwars and #wow (both in QuakeNet), #usa and #allnightcafe (both in UnderNet), #chat and #poker (both in EFNet). The experiments include real and simulated users."

What sticks out to me is "not requiring passwords". That makes a big difference. When you can change your name willy nilly, post anonymously, and generally not have a persistent identity it tends to change the way you act. Obviously the culture of the community makes a difference as well. There's a lot I don't say on this forum because people are offended so easily.
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#16 Old 05-06-2013, 08:21 PM
 
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I used to go to chat rooms all the time when I was young and first had internet. This is definitely true. I was extremely happy when I finally learned how to turn off private messages completely. There is nothing more annoying than trying to have a conversation and having windows pop up every second. Although it was kind of fun for a little while before I found out how to do that because I made up my own religion and would preach abstinence which included abstinence from cybersex.

 

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Originally Posted by ElaineV View Post

Yes, this is accurate. My experience mimmics it too. Both on IRC (which I don't use anymore) and also on facebook. I used to use male pseudonyms because of that fact.

 

But FYI I looked up the study and it was published in 2006.

source: http://www.newsdesk.umd.edu/sociss/release.cfm?ArticleID=1273

 

Yeah, same here. Started using more gender neutral names and would sometimes even pretend to be male. Or sometimes I would switch back and forth. Can be fun reading all the guesses.

 

Makes sense it was done in 2006. I've never been on the IRC chats but I would assume they're probably not around anymore (or at least no one uses them much anymore) because all the ones I ever went to are now gone. Except for yahoo last time I checked, but those are mostly just bots.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlainWinthrope View Post


What sticks out to me is "not requiring passwords". That makes a big difference. When you can change your name willy nilly, post anonymously, and generally not have a persistent identity it tends to change the way you act. Obviously the culture of the community makes a difference as well. There's a lot I don't say on this forum because people are offended so easily.

 

I haven't found requiring passwords to make a difference. All the ones I went to were ones that required a password. Same with other types of sites where people tend to keep the same username for years. Being anonymous or thinking you are does make a difference though. Same with culture of the community. I think for some people even if you're not anonymous but still sitting behind a computer screen instead of talking to someone in person it can change your behavior and what you say. I've gotten a lot of creepy messages from people over the years, but the worst was from someone I used to work with but wanted to chat as if we were strangers in a chat room. I still cringe thinking about it.

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#17 Old 05-07-2013, 02:52 PM
 
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I haven't been in a chat room in a long time. At one point they were more appealing when I was younger. There is something about it that I kind of miss when I think of it now. Maybe it's an association with being younger and less jaded. smiley.gif

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#18 Old 05-11-2013, 08:40 AM
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i only use two names on the internet - Kenickie, which people assume is male, and is my number one choice. however sometimes people get there before me, so i go with speedheart -- which is super femmey and is a Bikini Kill song. not that people get that or anything. but i honestly get more solicitations/messages/wanna cyber? from men when I use Kenickie and they assume that i'm male than when i use speedheart and people assume i'm female. could also just be the forums that i use the different names on as well. the places they used for this study seemed like a terrible idea. i've been redditing pretty hardcore the past couple of months and have yet to get a single malicious message. no one gives me any **** on 4chan either. but there are caveats to that too -- on reddit i just go to the private Slytherin subreddit and Atlanta, both of which are really small, so small to the point of accidentally starting a fight with my roommate before i realized it was him and told him to shut up from down the hall. it's also not a chat room. the internet isn't just boys night anymore, and there are way more girl centric/supportive places on the internet now than ever before. i mean, has anyone met a dude on tumblr, ever? i'm just saying. i feel like the last bastion of boys only is gaming/coding. but even that is getting better, considering all the bad press gaming conventions get every time a woman has to twitter sexist crap or a cosplayer gets molested in an elevator or whatever. wake me up when dragoncon ends.

 

eta: i also video chat (tinychat) pretty regularly with "the lounge" forum of another board i belong to. they are never malicious or gross despite being a bunch of drug addicts (literally) and disasters of people. they are actually pretty great. i teach them how to cook something, or do some sort of craft with them, have a drink or two and that's it. its one of my favourite activities on my day off. they also might be super nice to me because i was the best lounge moderator that ever was.


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#19 Old 05-11-2013, 09:12 AM
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Sounds accurate to me. Girls in my chat usually turn PMs off, with an allowance for friends... or leave them on if they like the attention wink3.gif Theyre also faster to get mod status so as to be able to boot the real freaky ones.

Some girls also use male nics, and some of the more colorful boys use female nics.

My name is gender ambiguous to most but feminine to italians, I've met lots of italian boys- lol

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#20 Old 05-11-2013, 09:20 AM
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maybe that's why i like drug addicts --- why send a pm when you can just say it in the chat window? i never understood the false modesty of chat room pms. we're all gonna see it one way or another.


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#21 Old 05-11-2013, 11:28 AM
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In many chat rooms, even adult rooms, theres a variation of a 'dont pester people with unsolicited pervy stuff' rule. And PMs often involve other infractions of rules.

Some guys dont want to chat at all, they just send a prewritten or lazy-short PM to every female nic that enters. I've even seen guys build bots to PM every entry and ring a bell on their computer if someone actually responds, at one point I even had to build the opposite- a female named bot that booted anyone who sent it a PM grin.gif. Often PMs are used to lure people to other chat interfaces with video functionality, yahoo et al.

 

I agree, keep stuff in the open until both want to go to PM or cam.

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