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John Oliver exposes what the Internet does to women

Technically Incorrect: In a searing segment that ought to cause a considerable portion of the male population to feel just a little shame, the HBO comedian praises Google's stance on revenge porn. (And mocks Bing.)

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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John Oliver offers a grim view of mankind. Man-kind. Last Week Tonight/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

"Harassment" is a word so often used these days that it seems to hold no more power than "pudding."

Last night, however, John Oliver decided to show the disgraceful, painful depths to which men sink online in order to cause untold grief and fear to women.

For more than half of Sunday's "Last Week Tonight," the HBO comedian offered the sheer unpleasant degradation that leads to women fearing for their safety.

For those who don't see harassment on the Internet as an issue, Oliver offered this: "Congratulations on your white penis because if you have one of those, you probably have a very different experience of the Internet."

As one example, Oliver showed a clip from the documentary "GTFO:The Movie," where female video gamer Grace recalls one of the more "colorful threats" she's received online.

"I think the one that always sticks in my mind is 'I'm going to stick an egg in your vaginal canal and punch it,'" said Grace, co-founder of FatUglyorSlutty.com, a site where women gamers share and mock the insulting comments directed at them online.

She described it, ironically, as "poignant."

But her treatment seems like just the vomit of ignorance emerging from the mouth of a teen when compared to threats of rape or death that are routinely directed toward some women online.

For example, Oliver displays threats directed at sex and relationship reporter Amanda Hess: "@amandahess I am 36 years old, I did 12 years for 'manslaughter', I killed a woman, like you, who decided to make fun of men's cocks."

These are uttered by anonymous men -- in this case someone with the Twitter handle headlessfemalepig -- who are often doing it for the sheer terroristic kicks.

It isn't exactly easy when women complain to the police, either. Some police officers have no clue what Twitter is.

But then there's revenge porn -- images often taken when a relationship was happy. Oliver praised Google, which last week decided it would sift out revenge porn from its pages. (He added: "Not even vindictive perverts will use Bing.")

Only 23 states have specific laws against revenge porn. So some women have had to send the authorities more naked pictures of themselves to prove that naked pictures of them put online are actually of them.

Will the law ever catch up with what happens to women online? Even if it does, how effective will it be?

Just a cursory perusal of Twitter shows what a repository of loathing and gratuitous unpleasantness it can be.

Sometimes, it's hard to change mankind. Or, rather, man-kind.