The Internet of Garbage

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Internet of Garbage
Cover of The Internet of Garbage.jpg
AuthorSarah Jeong
The Verge (2018 reissue)
Media typeDigital (e-book)

The Internet of Garbage is a 2015 non-fiction book by journalist and lawyer Sarah Jeong.[2][3][4] It discusses online harassment as a threat to the useful functions of the internet, and argues for new approaches to managing the issue. The book was reissued in 2018 with a new preface by Jeong.

Publication history[edit]

In 2015, Forbes published The Internet of Garbage in 2015 as part of their "Forbes Signature Series" of e-books.[5] In 2018, The Verge reissued a "1.5" version of the book with a new preface by Jeong after she joined the editorial board of The New York Times.[6]


The thesis of the book is that most of the internet has always been garbage, which has always threatened to make the internet useless. Spam is one such form of garbage, and it has been addressed, imperfectly but manageably, through the use of technology and human curation. Online harassment, especially of women and people of color, has become the newest kind of garbage, and new ways of thinking, new law, and new technologies are needed to manage it.[7][8]

Written after the concentrated harassment campaigns perpetrated against Caroline Criado Perez in 2013 and multiple other women in the Gamergate controversy in 2014, the book deals with issues of online harassment, and especially gender- and race-related harassment, with an emphasis on the physical danger caused by doxing.[9][10][11]: 21  The book describes how harassment makes the Internet smaller, and less free for its targets, and seeks to broaden the frontier of free speech for all Internet users.[12][13][14] It also discusses effects of online visibility on social reputation,[15] and spam.[16][17]

Writing from a legal and policy perspective, Jeong describes how the regulations applied to the Internet, such as the DMCA and the Communications Decency Act, have been based in copyright law and are focused on taking down problematic content after it has been posted, and were designed to protect corporate interests. She describes how this has made user-generated social media much more viable than it could otherwise have been, but on the other hand, it has left platforms without a framework or legal motivation to address hate speech, harassment, and propaganda.[18][19] The books suggests other approaches to dealing with harassment, more akin to the way that spam is filtered.[11]: 202 [8]


The Internet of Garbage was favorably received in the technology press[14][20] and by feminist organizations.[21] Writing for Techdirt, Mike Masnick reviewed the book as "nuanced and well worth reading".[13] Author and professor Alan Jacobs called it "very well done, and rather sobering".[7] Fortune called the 2018 reissue "more valuable than ever".[22]


  1. ^ "Forbes eBook Library". Forbes. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  2. ^ Greenberg, Andy (2016-09-19). "Inside Google's Internet Justice League and Its AI-Powered War on Trolls". WIRED. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  3. ^ "Sarah Jeong". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  4. ^ Shepherd, Katie (2019-04-03). "Sarah Jeong is Watching the Web from Portland. She Sees a Pile of Garbage". Willamette Week. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  5. ^ Chung, Nicole (2015-07-23). "An Interview with Sarah Jeong, Author of 'The Internet of Garbage'". The Toast. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  6. ^ Arnold, Amanda. "Apropos of Nothing, Sarah Jeong's Book About Harassment Is Getting Reissued". New York. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  7. ^ a b Jacobs, Alan (2015-07-20). "brief book reviews: The Internet of Garbage". The New Atlantis. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  8. ^ a b "What if we treated online harassment the same way we treat spam?". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  9. ^ Peterson, Latoya (2015-07-31). "Erasing yourself from the Internet is really, really hard". Splinter. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  10. ^ van der Nagel, Emily (2017). Social Media Pseudonymity: Affordances, Practices, Disruptions (PDF) (PhD). Swinburne University of Technology.
  11. ^ a b Poland, Bailey (2016). Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9781612348728.
  12. ^ Croeser, Sky (October 2016). "Thinking Beyond 'Free Speech' in Responding to Online Harassment". Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology. doi:10.7264/N35Q4TC4. ISSN 2325-0496.
  13. ^ a b Masnick, Mike (August 20, 2015). "Techdirt Reading List: The Internet Of Garbage". Techdirt. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  14. ^ a b Stone, Maddie (September 1, 2015). "Fantastic Science and Tech Books that Will Reboot Your Brain for Fall". Gizmodo. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  15. ^ Chu, Arthur (2015-10-18). "The Social Web And The Digital Panopticon". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  16. ^ Grossman, Wendy M (2015-12-03). "Spam & What's Yours Is Mine, book reviews: The loss of internet innocence". ZDNet. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  17. ^ Vasquez, Tina (Winter 2016). "The Internet of Garbage (Sarah Jeong)". Bitch. 69.
  18. ^ Smith, Shelagh (2018). "Book Review: Haters: Harassment, Abuse and Violence Online". International Journal of Women's Studies. 19: 261–263.
  19. ^ Hwang, Tim (2017). Digital Disinformation: A Primer (PDF). Atlantic Council.
  20. ^ Pegoraro, Rob (2015-07-21). "Why Online Comments Suck (and How to Fix Them)". Yahoo! Finance. Retrieved 2018-08-06. (Note: The discussion of the book is below the fold; click "Story continues" at the end to unroll that section.)
  21. ^ Chemaly, Soraya (2016-02-10). "10 Must-Read Books About Online Harassment and Free Speech". Women's Media Center. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
    Devaney, Beulah (2015-10-21). "4 must-read books about sexism on the internet". Gadgette. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  22. ^ "Food for Thought". Fortune. 2018-08-29. Retrieved 2018-08-29.

External links[edit]

Talks and interviews