Well-known Australian journalist Alanah Pearce – the Toys and Culture Editor at IGN Entertainment in San Francisco – says she receives about one rape threat a week and has been forwarding the abusive messages to the offenders’ parents.
The 22-year-old says most of the messages come through YouTube and Facebook.
When something that might be contentious gets published, Pearce says she’ll get a plethora of disgusting comments.
“Everyone I've managed to identify that has sent me a rape threat has been a male, and a surprising amount of them have been young boys, but I don't stop to ask them their age before banning or reporting their comments,” Pearce told Daily Mail.
Pearce says she frequently bans or ignores the online trolls, but will inform an authority figure if possible. She feels it’s imperative that cyber-bullies face real-world consequences for their online trolling.
“For anyone who sends me any kind of threat on Facebook, I will go to their profile and try to find personal information,” she said.
“For young boys I usually look for parents or family listed on their profile, and then send them a screenshot of the abuse their son has sent me.
“I've also contacted schools before if I've been unable to contact parents.
“I think it's an effective response to online harassment because it gives real world consequences to online actions.”
According to Pearce, some parents are defensive, accusing her of lying or inciting their children. Other parents have taken her complaints seriously by revoking their child’s online privileges.
Pearce has been forwarding offensive online comments to authority figures for years, even before working for IGN. On Nov. 28, 2014, the Guardian ran a piece discussing Pearce’s cyber-bullying and sexism within the gaming community.
The then 21-year-old, who was still in school studying media and communications at the time, was receiving physical and sexual violence threats after her reviews, both on Australian radio stations and on her YouTube videos.
“If you have the option to give someone real-world consequences for their action you may be able to teach them not to do it again, but you should never respond to them directly, especially not online,” said Pearce.
Adding, “They want attention, so if you give it to them they're unlikely to go away.”