Kink in exile

Notes from a kinky nomad

Predator Alert Tool comes to Facebook

There has been a bunch of chatter on my social media streams about the Predator Alert Tool for Facebook, so I thought perhaps I should take a look. Oh, and this was largely my first real look – I have let this one completely pass me by in its development. I didn’t preview it or participate in its creation, and so I’m in the interesting position of this being the first PAT tool that’s truly a surprise to me.

The premise is pretty straightforward: automate the process by which (mostly) women warn each other off dangerous men in their social network. And lets face it most rape is perpetrated by someone the victim knows, which means rapists aren’t crazy dudes in a hidey hole somewhere, they’re in our social networks.

The tool is actually introduced as:

The Predator Alert Tool for Facebook is designed for survivors of sexual assault and rape. It allows you to share information about people in your social network who may be dangerous without having to reveal your identity.

Using Predator Alert Tool for Facebook, you can:
Talk about it. Contribute your story with as much or as little detail as you feel comfortable sharing.
Decide who knows. Control who gets to see your story and who doesn’t. Display your identity only to the people you choose.
Get support. Connect with friends who have had a bad experience with the same person you did.
Hear about it. Find out about others’ bad experiences with people you know.

This is an interesting choice of framework, “designed for survivors of sexual assault and rape.” That sounds like designed for sharing, voicing, healing. It’s a valuable framework, but it’s not for me. I’m not a survivor, and when I asked here’s what others said about the word:

“In some ways I think it’s appropriating…survivor is not a word I feel comfortable using abt myself.”

“I was abused as a child, but I don’t think of myself as a survivor.”

“Not a term I’m fond of…”

“We are all survivors”

“I also dislike when people feel that they can TELL me I’m a survivor.”

But there is something for me in this. The much cooler side of this tool for me is designed for hearing, thinking about, comparing notes – designed for active prevention, and ladies, lets be honest, designed for learning more about that guy who bought you a beer. Not that I would ever advocate hijacking someone else’s tool, buuuuut, this is just what the Women’s Information Network needed – way more streamlined than trying to pop into the ladies’ at the same time as his ex’s sister’s roommate :-p

Now the makers of the tool are getting prepared for people screaming about the rumor mill or vigilante justice, and you can read their very well thought out responses here. But let me tell you what actually happens when a woman is thinking about going on a date with a dude: she asks her girlfriends. She engages in the exact behavior this tool would automate, only she does it in analog. “Hey Barbra, do you know Jake from chem lab? What’s he like?”

My coworker once had a crush on the college friend of someone I used to date, we’re all in our late 20s/early 30s, and we still did the “my friend likes your friend” dance. Humans are tribal animals, that’s just what we do.

You know what else women do in the physical world? We warn each other if we see our friends flirting with the douch at the party. Maybe we’re vague about it, maybe we only warn the women we already know not the new girl he’s talking to, but this app is cool specifically because it mirrors existing behavior.

And it scales it.

And that scares the shit out of the douch bags we’ve been talking about all along.

The other thing I really love about this tool is that it’s the first PAT tool I see as truly mainstream. This is not for or about the BDSM scene, this deals with a modality of interacting every western woman I know has experienced. As such, I am really curious to see the response. Frankly, I would love to see a partnership between the creators of PAT-Facebook and college rape crisis centers, and I know the creators are working hard to achieve that.

Still concerned that this will be misused to spread rumors? That will probably happen. Most technology is, sooner or later, used to spread rumors. But tell me, how is it you’re ok with teenagers – scratch that, adults too – having access, to Facebook at all? And what else, aside from opposing this tool, are you doing to combat cyber bullying? Sorry folks, but if this bugs you more than all of Reddit, I’m gonna assume you have some other agenda that’s best served by sweeping rape under the rug.

Written by kinkinexile

October 10, 2013 at 7:17 pm

4 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. > The premise is pretty straightforward: automate the process by which (mostly) women warn each other
    > off dangerous men in their social network. […] This app is cool specifically because it mirrors existing
    > behavior.
    >
    > And it scales it.

    I *really* love this framework for thinking about PAT-Facebook. Thank you for the great post!

    thirdxlucky

    October 11, 2013 at 3:03 pm

  2. […] would literally break people to protect me, I know you would, how can you stand in the way of anything that helps me avoid sexual […]

  3. […] Predator Alert Tools that maymay and Co. created.  Specifically, I love the Facebook add-on which scales the protective behavior I already do, and the OkCupid app because it’s an easy at-a-glance alert.  What I’m pissed off […]

  4. […] Each Predator Alert Tool is custom-designed not only for the technology of the specific website on which it is deployed, but also for the social culture of the website’s userbase. For instance, the Predator Alert Tool for OkCupid takes advantage of OkCupid’s “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” Match Questions, whereas the Predator Alert Tool for Facebook “automates the process by which (mostly) women warn each … […]


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: