Advertising and Rape Threats

2 min read

On the same day that Donald Trump gets a safe space carved out for him on Reddit , Jessica Valenti's five year old child receives a death and rape threat.

We have people claiming they can predict crime. We have companies marketing their prowess at using predictive analytics to support policing. We have law enforcement using social media monitoring to target city kids. We have schools using social media monitoring against kids. We have law enforcement arresting people who make online threats against police officers (and to be clear: online threats of violence are not okay - they *should* be investigated). Our ISPs and our mobile providers can partner to target specific ads to specific devices in a specific home.

Yet we can't do anything about online rape threats.

We have data brokers creating profiles on all of us, for just about any reason, and selling these profiles as to companies that see this data as a competitive advantage. These same data brokers are pretty adept at slicing the population into specific demographics, and targeting ads to them.

Yet we can't do anything about online death threats.

Political campaigns microtarget individuals.  Learning analytics companies tout a "robot tutor" that can "read your mind."

So, what is it? Is the marketing real? Do we have the tools to target ads to individuals, to know what people are thinking, to have true, penetrating insight into what people like and dislike? Because if that's true, we have a solid toolkit to use against online threats.

Or: the marketing is all a lie, and we are actually powerless to know more about the people who are threatening to rape kids. 

One thing we should know for sure: we either have solid analytics, or we don't.