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John Oliver explained the dangers of online harassment on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, specifically targeting the terrible threats women receive online.
He started out the segment talking about old AOL ads and the wonders of the Internet, but quickly turned to how the Internet is a haven for harassment and can make people fear for their safety.
“If you’re thinking, ‘Well come on that doesn’t seem like that big a problem,’ well congratulations on your white penis. Because if you have one of those, you probably have a very different experience on the Internet,” said Oliver.
He detailed the threats women receive, including bomb threats, rape threats and threats to kill a woman’s entire family. “I’m going to stick an egg in your vaginal canal and punch it,” was one threat a woman received during Gamergate.
Oliver talked about how police don’t know how to investigate the crime of online harassment, and discussed how revenge porn is legal in 27 states. The late night host said he knows “asking law enforcement to police speech is a dicey proposition,” but “if a woman turns up to a police station saying someone threatened her life on Twitter, the answer ‘What’s Twitter?’ is woefully inadequate.”
He also talked about how the media is complicit in victim-blaming, asking people to just not take naked pictures at all, and explained that in order for some women to stop revenge porn they have to send naked pictures of themselves to the copyright office. Throughout the serious conversation, Oliver incorporated his trademark humor to lighten the mood, occasionally rick-rolling the audience.
“We all know the Internet is an incredible tool, but like most tools it can also be used as a weapon,” said Oliver. He then presented an alternative “old AOL commercial” that gleefully demonstrates all of the ways the Internet can harm women.
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