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#MoreThanMean: Viral video opens debate about online trolling against women

In a painful new video, normal men are forced to read the online comments that are written to female sports journalists. The video has opened a huge discussion about online harrassment against women.

"They deserve to be beaten to death with hockey sticks, to have their dogs hit by cars, to lose their jobs and return to the kitchen, to be raped and raped again."

These are the kinds of online messages sent to Sarah Spain and Julie DiCaro, two sports journalists from the US city of Chicago.

When a local sports podcast, Just Not Sports, heard about it, they created something of a public service announcement about an issue many internet users were unaware of.

The men reading the comments were prepped to think they'd be humorous in nature, something along the lines of "mean tweets" occasionally read aloud by politicians and celebrities on TV shows.

As the true nature of the comments is slowly revealed, the men cringe, go silent, apologize, and do their best to read the words aloud.

"Hopefully this skank Julie DiCaro is Bill Cosby's next victim. That would be classic."

"Self-important, know it all c***."

"I hope you get raped again."

Joining the debate

Online, using the hashtag #MoreThanMean, female journalists wrote messages of sympathy, anger and support for the women, making it clear that the online abuse affected all female journalists.

Erin Andrews, the US reporter who was secretly filmed nude inside her hotel room, added:

But the problem, one person noted, isn't just limited to female journalists:

Open questions

One Twitter user, however, had a question for DiCaro, who had been pestered by a troll "every day fror 9 months."

Another user asked Sarah Spain:

Spain responded:

Legal steps

When it comes to legal ramifications, an example from Germany shows that female journalists can fight online trolls and win.

In February, a Hamburg court ruled that a Facebook user was not allowed to post hate-speech comments or harassing statements to the page of an award-winning female journalist named Dunja Hayali. Doing so could lead to a fine of up to 250,000 euros. The ruling came after the user posted racist and misogynistic comments, a part of which Hayali herself reposted in August 2015 to illustrate the problem of online harrassment. Her post was shared more than 10,000 times.

Dunja Hayali Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa/K.Schindler

Dunja Hayali is one of the first journalists to have won a case against online trolling in Germany

Julie DiCaro, after posting the #MoreThanMean video to her Facebook page, received many messages of support.

"Sorry you and Sarah have to deal with this stupidity Julie," wrote Joel Vann Diggelen. "I hope you realize a vast majority of males don't act like that. Those folks are just pathetic."

Another, Chad Woehrle, wrote, "I watched this video and it hurts me to know that there is such a lack of respect for woman and humanity. Thank you for being strong and setting and example for everyone."

DiCaro herself also posted a thanks to the men involved.

"BTW, I love each and every guy in this video, who thought they were being recruited to do a Kimmel-esque mean tweets segment, and wound up having to read that crap. They re-affirmed my faith in humanity."

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