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Rape: is there an app for that? An empirical analysis of the features of anti-rape apps

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This study of mobile phone apps designed to prevent sexual violence (n = 215) is a quantitative analysis of all their features (n = 807). We analyze the intended users (victims, bystanders, and perpetrators) and rape prevention strategies of each feature, finding that anti-rape app design generally reinforces and reflects pervasive rape myths, by both targeting potential victims and reinforcing stranger-danger. To demonstrate that these limitations are primarily cultural rather than technological, we conclude by imagining apps with similar technical features that resist rather than reinforce rape myths. This study offers an empirical investigation of the relationship between technical design and social norms, and a unique methodology for uncovering the ideologies that underlie design.
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Keywords: Mobile phone apps; computer programming; rape myths; rape prevention; sexual violence; software design

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada 2: Department of Communication, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO, USA

Publication date: August 3, 2018

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