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The Internet of Things and Intimate Partner Abuse: Examining Prevalence, Risks, and Outcomes

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In this talk, Megan Knittel will begin with a discussion of her recent paper examining prevalence, risk factors, support-seeking, and personal outcomes of Internet of Things (IoT)-mediated intimate partner abuse. The researchers conducted a survey (N=384) using the MTurk platform of adult women living in the United States who self-reported having experienced intimate partner abuse.

They found that approximately 20% of women reported experiencing adverse behavior from an intimate partner using an IoT device, with the most common perpetration occurring with personal assistant devices and GPS enabled devices. Additionally, they found that Internet use skills and privacy/security behavior did not mitigate experiencing violence or adverse outcomes. Finally, their data suggest that experiencing IoT-mediated abuse predicted more severe personal outcomes than non-IoT mediated abuse. Megan will discuss the implications of these findings for human computer interaction design and information policy.

For the last part of the talk, Megan will also discuss preliminary findings from her dissertation. For this work, Megan is conducting a netnography of online support spaces in conjunction with interviews with survivors to further examine the role of networked homes in experiences of abuse and support-seeking.

Megan Knittel
PhD candidate at Michigan State UniversityMegan Knittel

Megan Knittel is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Department of Media & Information and the James H. and Mary B. Quello Center for Media & Information Policy at Michigan State University. Her research centers on the role of social computing technologies in experiences of identity-related violence and marginalization. Much of her work is focused on online communities and how these spaces can support collaborative sense-making for the adoption and use of emerging technologies, particularly for marginalized communities and topics. Her dissertation project, “Smart Homes, Smart Harms: Understanding Risks, Impacts, and Support-Seeking in Cases of Internet of Things-Mediated Intimate Partner Violence”, centers on using qualitative methodologies to understand how sensor-based computing devices that make up the Internet of Things intersect with trajectories of intimate partner abuse, with an emphasis support-seeking strategies, barriers, and outcomes.