Dorothy and Gloria – 40+ years later….

Gloria and Dorothy 1971 © Dan Wynn - Carla Franklin website

Photo by Dan Wynn, 1971

Gloria and Dorothy 2014 © Dan Bagan - Carla Franklin website

Photo by Dan Bagan, 2014

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Dorothy Pitman Hughes is a feminist, child-welfare advocate, African-American activist, public speaker, author, pioneering African-American small business owner, and mother of three daughters. She was a co-founder of Ms. Magazine in 1971. She organized the first shelter for battered women in New York City and co-founded the New York City Agency for Child Development (now the New York City Administration for Children’s Services). Hughes also co-founded with Gloria Steinem and others the Women’s Action Alliance in 1971. The two women toured together speaking about gender, class and race throughout the 1970s.

Hughes was born 1938 in Lumpkin, Georgia. Her father was beaten when she was ten years old and left for dead on the family’s doorstep, the family believes it to be a crime committed by Ku Klux Klan members. Hughes decided as a child in reaction to her family’s experiences she would devote her life to improving the circumstances of people through activism.

As an adult, she became an activist in an attempt to stop abuse and violence from happening to other people. Pitman Hughes moved from Georgia to New York City in 1957 where she worked in entertainment as a singer through the 1960s. She began her activism by raising bail money for civil rights protesters. She was a co-founder of Ms. Magazine in 1971. She organized the first shelter for battered women in New York City and co-founded the New York City Agency for Child Development pioneering child-care noting “too many women were being forced to leave their children home alone while they worked to feed their families”. Hughes also co-founded with Gloria Steinem the Women’s Action Alliance, a pioneering national information center that specialized in nonsexist, multiracial children’s education, in 1971. The two women toured together speaking about race, class and gender throughout the 1970s. (Wikipedia)

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Remembering the March on Washington, 50 years later

Growing up in a region of the south that was part of the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement, I’ve always felt a certain connection to the past fight Jim Crow.  The high school that I attended was officially desegregated only 6 years prior to my birth.  As a child, I frequently visited the famous Woolworth’s store where four young male students from North Carolina A&T State University participated in the first sit-in, before it closed in the early 1990s.  My father and uncles were born in the “black hospital” that provided health and medial services to African Americans in central North Carolina, at a time when they had no other option.  I am a child of the Civil Rights Movement and part of Martin Luther King’s dream.

March on Washington - 1963 - Carla Franklin

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, a critical milestone in the movement for racial equality in America.  The 1963 March on Washington was one of the largest of its time, bringing together people of all races and ages in a fight to end racial apartheid in the United States.  Today, I will remember those who fought and sacrificed for my right to live as an equal member of American society.

If not for Winnie, there would be no Nelson: Understanding the real Mandela legacy

If not for Winnie, there would be no Nelson: Understanding the real Mandela legacy winnie mandela - carla franklin 1
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As we remember the legacy of Nelson Mandela today, please do not forget the woman who worked to co-create his legacy and who molded Nelson (once regarded as a terrorist around the world) into the international hero he is known to be today. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela became Nelson Mandela’s 2nd wife at the ripe, young age of 19. This amazing young woman could have never have imagined the journey that her life would take after marrying a much older Nelson, who is roughly 18 years her senior. Her resilience, intelligence and fortitude served her, and Nelson, well though his years of incarceration in South Africa’s prisons. It was Winnie who released Nelson’s letters to the world (and made sure the world paid attention), never allowing the public to forget him has he sat in jail. She raised his their 2 children and was at the forefront of the battle against the violence and cruelty of the Afrikaner led apartheid movement, while Nelson “sat” in jail.

The unfortunate part of the Mandela legacy is that she, the mother…and nurturer of the anti-apartheid movement, was cast aside as a woman who was too empowered…and who didn’t know her place after Nelson Mandela was released. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, I will never forget that without you, Nelson Mandela would likely have been a lesser known historic figure who’s legacy would never have been truly appreciated.

Why unlawful social media behavior can get you sued

Social Media Lawsuit - Carla FranklinToday, more than 50% of Americans have at least one active social media account.  Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform with over 1 Billion active users each month.  Twitter continues to grow as an important digital information outlet with over 140 million active users posting 340 million Tweets a day.  Tumblr, Pintrest, Group Me, YouTube, LinkedIn and Word Press are other key players in the untamed Wild West of human digital life.  So it comes as no surprise that there are outlaws in the online Wild West, committing crime and using social platforms with malicious intent.  There always are criminals in every new frontier who prey on victims.  Luckily, the use of social media evidence is becoming a recognized standard in courtrooms nationwide.

Social Media Finger Print - Carla FranklinSocial media evidence is increasingly being used to win verdicts on behalf of Plaintiffs in both civil and criminal suits.  This trend demonstrates a positive, albeit slow, progression by the judicial system to recognize relevance that social media plays not only in everyday life, but also in criminal and civil offenses across the United States.   When ever a new technology emerges for providing evidence of criminal behavior, there is a “lagging effect” on the side of law enforcement and the court system to understand and recoginze its validity.  This was true of DNA evidence, which first emerged as a solid legal tool  in the 1980s, but took 10+ years to become a recognized standard by police and the courts.

As an anti-cyber abuse advocate, and a survivor of cyberharassment, I’ve seen first hand how law enforcement, attorneys and judges struggle with social media evidence in cases of harassment, stalking, defamation and invasion of privacy.  Arguments arise regarding First Amendment and Privacy rights.  Courts have had discomfort dealing with postings, and their impact on case law.  How does one distinguish between as satire, or the right to comment on “public figures“, vs. defamation in the digital world?   In the past, the judiciary often minimized the damage of online harassment and defamation online.  Thankfully this is changing.  The growing use of digital media as a primary platform for information and communication make crimes like cyberbullying, cyberharassment, online defamation and revenge porn even more damaging than those committed offline.  My philosophy is that if it’s illegal for an individual to engage in certain illegal behavior in person, by mail or over the phone, then he/sh should NOT be allowed to do it online…where the audience is larger, the rate of “misinformation dissemination” is faster, and it is harder to undo bad behavior.  Nationwide, judges, DAs and police are starting to adopt the same philosophy.

A recent article entitled, “Authentication and Access for Social Media Evidence“, written by lawyers from the firm of Jenner and Block, outlines the two main criteria that social media evidence must meet to be admissible in court:

  1. It must meet basic standards of Authentication.  This means, the user account must tie back to a specific user based on the “preponderance of evidence” in civil cases, or “beyond a reasonable doubt” in criminal cases.
  2. Accessibility. It must be stored and be accessible via typical methods of discovery.  This means that if I subpoena Facebook for information on an alleged online stalker, the company’s legal or security team  should be able to retrieve and provide me with an official record of the activity.

The Seven types of Cyber Abuse

Cyber Abuse Carla Franklin

Cyber Abuse is a vicious crime that occurs through digital channels

The fact that “ignorance of the law is never a defense“, doesn’t stop people from continuing to engage in online behavior that is not only unethical, but also illegal. As someone who survived and fought back against cyber stalking, I’m often invited to speak to high school and college-aged students on the topic of cyber abuse. Consistently, I find that most young people and adults who attend my talks don’t understand the full emotional and legal impact of cyber abuse. Many don’t even know all the forms that cyber abuse takes and that there are some laws on the books to protect victims from each type. Now, these laws aren’t always appropriately enforced, and most are unreasonably limited given the damage that cyber abuse does, but the laws are there nonetheless and should be used.

Typically when people discuss general online digit abuse, harassment and stalking, they use the term “cyberbullying”.

Stop cyberstalking

Stop cyberstalking

This is a misnomer.  Cyber abuse the most appropriate term to describe crimes and other legal violations that are directed at individuals and committed through digital channels including cell phone services and the internet.

Cyberbullying, like Cyberharassment and Cyberstalking, is a type of cyber abuse.  Specifically, it is cyber abuse committed by young people (age 17 and under) again young people, while Cyberharassment and Cyberstalking are commited by adults.   Cyberharassment may include false accusations, monitoring, making threats, identity theft, damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sex, or gathering information in order to harass (Wikipedia).   Repeated patterns of cyber abuse against a victim by an adult constitutes cyberstalking.

Cyber abuse can though any digital means, not just online.  Victims are damaged mentally, financially and professionally to a degree that is far more severe than similar behavior done in person, by postal mail or by phone. Why? Because online and digital communication is global and available to anyone 24 hours a day. Ignoring a perpetrator’s is not always a solutions for victims, especially in cases where this is on going intention to intimidate, alarm, humiliate and irrevocably damage the victim.  Understanding the primary types of cyber abuse, and associated legal consequences, can help empower the victim and his/her loved ones to fight back appropriately and put an end to the behavior.  Below are the seven high-level forms of cyber abuse and the legal consequences associated with them.  Over the coming months, I will be blogging about the real impact of each type of cyber abuse and how victims can empower themselves.

TYPES DEFINITION LEGAL CONSEQUENCES
Cyberbullying
•Cyberbullying is digital abuse committed against young people (17 and younger), by young people
•Suspension from school and athletic teams
•Juvenile arrest
Cyberstalking/ Cyberharassment
•Cyberharassment – a form of cyberbullying committed by adults (18 and older)
•Cyberstalking – repeated acts of cyberharassment
•Civil lawsuits
•Criminal arrest for harassment, stalking, impersonation, defamation
Phone / Caller ID spoofing
•Caller ID spoofing is the practice of causing the telephone network to display a number on the recipient’s Caller ID display that is not that of the actual originating station
•Criminal arrest for harassment, stalking, impersonation, identity theft, fraud
Sexting
•Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages and/or photographs, primarily between mobile phones.
•Copyright infringement
•Criminal arrest for distribution of pornography, child pornography, invasion of privacy
Revenge Porn
•A form of cyber-rape that involves the distribution of sexually explicit photos and/or videos of an individual (either real or photoshopped) on the Internet without permission.
•Civil lawsuits
•Criminal arrest for harassment, stalking, impersonation
Internet “bombing”/ bombarding
•Creation of 100s to 1000s of harassing and defamatory online postings in an effort to negatively alter a victim’s search engine results and deliberately cause mental anguish, job loss and misconceptions
•Civil lawsuits
•Criminal arrest for harassment, stalking, defamation
Digital burglary
•Illegal entry into or access of another person’s online account
•Criminal arrest for invasion of privacy, impersonation, identity theft, fraud