Designing a Better Global Response System for Online Abuse

The collective minds of advocates and activists from organizations fighting online abuse against journalists came together March 8 at the Internet Freedom Festival in Valencia, Spain. The group designed five new projects to support journalists under attack.

Michelle Ferrier leads the workshop in crowdsourcing a gap analysis of organizations working in online abuse.

TrollBusters Founder Dr. Michelle Ferrier, along with Elisa Lees Munoz, executive director of the International Women’s Media Foundation and Kerry Patterson of the Committee to Protect Journalists hosted a design thinking workshop on International Women’s Day with more than 20 participants of nongovernmental organizations and others promoting freedom of expression.

Facilitated by Ferrier, the group worked together for 2 ½ hours to create a gap analysis of the organizations and projects already serving journalists before, during and after an online attack. Then the participants defined priorities exposed by the gap analysis and designed five projects to better serve the global threat. Using concept posters, teams designed the target audience, effects, strategic partners and next steps in building out the projects.

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Participants identified psychological support as one of the most pressing needs for journalists under attack.

The top five projects included:

  1. Analytic Research Support: Connect women journalists to analytic research organizations to understand the nature of online attacks.
  2. Third-Party Online Threat Assessment: Media organizations hire a 3rd party to assess and document online abuse and provide threat assessment.
  3. Providing Psychological Support: Providing psychological support before, during and after an attack. Support should focus on proactive strategies.
  4. Mapping Online Harassment Hotspots: Creating a visualization of where online activity is concentrated.
  5. Troll/Harasser Buster: Name and shame to force accountability, correct the record and provide documentation to help change policies.
Teams worked on concept posters to design new projects to serve journalists.

The project teams will continue after the festival to flesh out their projects and find strategic partners to implement the ideas. If you are interested in participating in the working groups, please contact Michelle Ferrier at

Published by michelleferrier

Executive Director, Media Innovation Collaboratory; Founder, | Online Pest Control for Writers and Journalists;

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