0

My significant other and I were talking about how often she seems to get explicit advertisements on Pandora or Youtube. I'm sure many of you have heard one or two at some point - I can type out some examples if needed. Perhaps we just have delicate sensibilities, but we proposed a hypothetical question -

Because of the nature of these unsolicited advertisements, at what point is it equivocal to someone sending unsolicited explicit pictures or text to someone? (Which by my understanding can be considered harassment)

Have I entered into an agreement with the service provider than I consent to receiving these advertisements by using their services? How do the advertisers have the right to broadcast something that I would definitely bring up to HR if I heard a coworker say?

2
  • I have read up on the definitions of the term "Harassment" and find the list of items that must be proven for workplace harassment easily. Perhaps I'm missing a better term for personal harassment? Surely someone can be a victim of harassment without having to prove "It affected their work"
    – Aww_Geez
    May 27 at 21:36
  • 1
    You'll have to state the jurisdiction. But what you may be missing, for the US, is that the laws against workplace harassment are specific to that context, and there is no analogous law against "personal harassment". May 27 at 22:05
4

At what point is unsolicited explicit material considered harassment? How do the advertisers have the right to broadcast something that I would definitely bring up to HR if I heard a coworker say?

The contexts are too different. One cannot expect much similarity on how the unsolicited explicit communications are addressed.

On platforms such as Youtube the unsolicited explicit material is not sent specifically to you, but to a set of users who at best have some characteristics in common. By contrast, akin communications in a work environment are much likelier to constitute harassment insofar as they usually are intended for a specific person. Your own use of the term "broadcast" reflects your acknowledgment of that difference.

Another difference relates to the recipient's dependency on the environment where the unpleasant communications occur. Implicit in the anti-harassment protections in a work environment is the acknowledgment that the recipient's livelihood depends on that person's continued employment. That dependency renders such communications a form of coercion. By contrast, dependency is much lower or non-existent when it comes to entertainment platforms: the recipient can leave the platform without any consequences that might threaten that person's livelihood.

Have I entered into an agreement with the service provider than I consent to receiving these advertisements by using their services?

That is hard to tell. You will need to read the terms of service of these platforms and post another question if some clause(s) is(are) unclear.

4
  • For it to be harassment, it has to be targeted more specifically and in an environment in which they cannot freely leave? I may be able to sort out my internal thoughts with that.
    – Aww_Geez
    May 27 at 21:00
  • @Aww_Geez Yes. But rather than just freely, it helps to think of it in terms of consequences of the person's decision to leave. A person usually is free to leave employment or home (otherwise it would be tantamount to slavery and kidnapping, respectively), but that decision would trigger a hard transition and most likely a detrimental outcome. May 27 at 22:56
  • I suppose I need to view the broadcast like I would a physical establishment that I have chosen to enter- If I, for example, entered a shop that sold explicit material I would have no argument here. Then the only leg I have to stand on is, was I informed that the explicit material would be present when I entered? Am I entitled to such a warning?
    – Aww_Geez
    May 28 at 13:35
  • "Am I entitled to such a warning?" No, at least not in regard to a legal theory of harassment. The unpleasant material is not intended for you personally. It is intended for some consumer who happens to be you. May 28 at 14:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.