Technology facilitated coercive control: Domestic violence and the competing roles of digital media platforms

Dragiewicz, M., Burgess, J., Matamoros-Fernández, A., Salter, M., Suzor, N. P., Woodlock, D., & Harris, B. (2018). Technology facilitated coercive control: Domestic violence and the competing roles of digital media platforms. Feminist Media Studies, 18(4), 609–625.


Open access: No

Notes: Overall, this article highlights how digital media has expanded the reach of gender violence, as it can be enacted in the distance. The authors also discuss the connection of digital violence to context collapse, as collapse exacerbates the events of digital violence. Moreover, they note that the specific affordances and loopholes of platforms are exploited for different types of violence. In this sense, they argue that there is much pressure on platforms to act around online abuse, but it is not effective as the dominant approach is fed by the libertarian vision of free speech and private property.

Quotes: “There is no scholarly consensus about which term(s) to use; different terms point to different contexts of violence and abuse and therefore different phenomena; and no term is perfect, each having advantages and limitations.” (p. 610)

“Platforms’ failure of governance with regard to online harassment can be attributed to their business models. Hate online triggers traffic to online content and interaction about it, which translates in economic revenue for platforms and could explain their lack of response to online abuse” (p. 617)

Full abstract: This article describes domestic violence as a key context of online misogyny, foregrounding the role of digital media in mediating, coordinating, and regulating it; and proposing an agenda for future research. Scholars and anti-violence advocates have documented the ways digital media exacerbate existing patterns of gendered violence and introduce new modes of abuse, a trend highlighted by this special issue. We propose the term “technology facilitated coercive control” (TFCC) to encompass the technological and relational aspects of patterns of abuse against intimate partners. Our definition of TFCC is grounded in the understanding of domestic violence (DV) as coercive, controlling, and profoundly contextualised in relationship dynamics, cultural norms, and structural inequality. We situate TFCC within the multiple affordances and modes of governance of digital media platforms for amplifying and ameliorating abuse. In addition to investigating TFCC, scholars are beginning to document the ways platforms can engender counter-misogynistic discourse, and are powerful actors for positive change via the regulation and governance of online abuse. Accordingly, we propose four key directions for a TFCC research agenda that recognises and asks new questions about the role of digital media platforms as both facilitators of abuse and potential partners in TFCC prevention and intervention.

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