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Rules of the Internet: 'Tits or GTFO!'

Over the last week, 'Twitter trolls' have targeted high profile women with repeated online threats of rape, murder and bomb attacks... It's terrible behaviour, of course. Just because it's a feature of internet culture doesn't mean it's ok. But anyone remotely surprised that the internet is full of trolls and misogynists hasn't really been paying much attention for the last 20 years or so.
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Over the last week, 'Twitter trolls' have targeted high profile women with repeated online threats of rape, murder and bomb attacks, most notably Caroline Criado-Perez, Stella Creasy MP, and the academic Mary Beard. In response, many users boycotted Twitter on Sunday, and a petition was started to make reporting abuse easier. It's not just the celebrity females that get the abuse: recent research has found that women are more likely to be cyber bullied than men across the board.

It's terrible behaviour, of course. Just because it's a feature of internet culture doesn't mean it's ok. But anyone remotely surprised that the internet is full of trolls and misogynists hasn't really been paying much attention for the last 20 years or so.

From its earliest days as a tiny elite academic network, through to bulletin boards, forums and now social media, the internet has always been male dominated, and often a pretty hostile place for women.

One glaring example is the 'Rules of the Internet', a set of spoofy user generated rules posted on Encylopedia Dramatica by users of the meme-generator and petri-dish of internet weirdness, 4Chan. It includes the following:

30. There are no girls on the Internet

31. Tits or GTFO* - the choice is yours

*Get The Fuck Out

Rule 30 refers to the fact that it was widely known that many female users were in fact masquerading men. Such was the dearth of women that 1980s Bulletin Board users had a special emoticon: O>-

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