Del Harvey: Fighting the Online Bad Guys

July 20 - On The Dot
It’s a great day to be a woman! Melinda Garvey here as your voice, with the mission to give women everywhere a place to be heard and tell their stories. We’d love to hear from you!


What was your first experience with the Internet? Depending on when you were born, the World Wide Web has played varying degrees of importance in your life. Teens today spend 300 percent more time in front of screens than those in 1995. They also spend about nine hours per day using digital media, which is more than the seven hours they spend sleeping!

As adults in modern times, we’re expected to constantly be in touch, answering emails, responding to texts, liking photos. Some days, don’t you wish you could resort to the best-loved method of pre-Internet days and just let the machine get it?

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: Twice as Likely

Growing up in the Internet age can be a wonderful thing. You can now stay in communication with all your friends and you learn just about anything by typing it into Google.

But with the convenience of the Internet also comes a frightening element too: cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is the act of harassment that takes place using an electronic device, like a laptop or smartphone, or through text messages or even Instagram comments.

It happens every day, maybe even to kids in your life. According to, nearly 43 percent of kids have been cyberbullied, and one in four has had it happen more than once. What’s worse, girls are almost twice as likely to be perpetrators and victims of online bullying.

So, take a few moments today to connect offline with the girls in your life and provide a positive message because every little effort might help effect some social change among young people.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Del Harvey, Head of Trust and Safety at Twitter

Del Harvey has had quite the unusual career. She has administered psych tests to reality TV contestants and was a lifeguard at a pool in a state mental institution. Not only that, but she also posed as a kid for an organization called Perverted Justice, which worked with law enforcement to run stings on adults soliciting minors online.

That’s why she doesn’t use her real name. Del Harvey is a pseudonym to protect her from criminals she may have helped expose in the past. All of that gave her thick skin and a commitment to dealing with tough stuff. Harvey is now the head of trust and safety at Twitter for its more than 300 million users. In 2008, the company hired Harvey to deal with an abundance of spam. (If you frequent Twitter, you’re probably used to having your comments retweeted by “spambots” or followed by some pretty nefarious-looking accounts.)

While Twitter gives users the ability to express themselves and connect with others throughout the world, it also gives users the ability to be anonymous, a factor that can sometimes elicit cruel, abusive tweets.

That’s where Harvey comes in. She leads a team to deal with these so-called trolls. It’s super tough to determine what falls under freedom of speech and what is considered intimidation, harassment or terrorism. It’s even harder when about half a billion tweets are sent every single day. (And you thought those 20 emails in your inbox meant a lot of work!)

The job of preventing major online catastrophes is a lot of pressure to put on one woman, but if anyone can handle it, Harvey can. Recently, when Twitter decided to replace the option to block users with the option to mute them (so they can still tweet at you), Harvey told the company it was a bad idea that would make cyberbullying even easier. She was right, naturally, and about 12 hours and an online uproar later, Twitter followed Harvey’s advice.

With Del Harvey at the helm of one of the most popular platforms of all time, I feel confident that the online world is becoming a little safer. And I’m not the only one. When Twitter co-founder Jason Goldman left the company in 2010, his strongest advice for protecting Twitter’s brand was simple: “In case of emergency, trust Del.”


When you face unfair comments from someone, take actor Michael J. Fox’s words to heart. He said:

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.”

That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.

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