Growing technological capabilities have enhanced and intensified the potential for surveillance in many areas of life. Particularly, the placement of advanced technology in the hands of everyday people has produced ample opportunities for interpersonal monitoring. This growing capacity to surveil others we know without sophisticated techniques has concerning implications for acts of gender-based violence and intimate partner violence, which often hinge on surveillance, isolation, and control. Often, technology is used to the advantage of abusers in achieving such ends, and the wealth of personal information that is often available online leaves users vulnerable to acts of gender-based violence such as cyberstalking. In the following analysis, I systematically and forensically interrogate the seemingly mundane apps Find My and Venmo to investigate how these and other apps could be used to aid in such behaviors, paying special attention to privacy settings and account security features. I find that these apps generally overlook special risks that are often present in gender-based violence and intimate partner violence, especially hindering users’ efforts towards independence when their account may be compromised by an abuser. Additionally, limited privacy settings on social apps like Venmo leave an abundance of personal information publicly accessible with few options to improve security while continuing to use the service. In light of these findings, I make recommendations to help alleviate gender-based privacy and safety concerns, including more equal gender representation in technological development, and more advanced security features such as fingerprint identification or facial recognition.
"Uses Unaddressed: How Social Technologies Tacitly Allow Gender-Based Violence,"
Comm-entary: Vol. 17
, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholars.unh.edu/comm-entary/vol17/iss1/3