OSCE Makes Recommendations for Media Management on Online Abuse

A report from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)’s Representative on Freedom of the Media details the threat online abuse of female journalists poses to freedom of the media. Founder of TrollBusters Michelle Ferrier authored the report, part of the 2017 relaunch of OSCE’s Safety of Female Journalists online campaign (#SOFJO). This installment of the report focuses on recommendations for media organizations.

The #SOFJO campaign sought to spread awareness of online abuse and its impacts on female journalists as well as provide tools, resources and other support to those who have been targeted.

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Online harassment can have a silencing effect, particularly on female journalists, who, the report states, are trolled more often than their male counterparts. These threats, which can include rape, assault, exile and death, can lead to emotional distress, physical ailments, prolonged stress and physical attack. In addition, the attacks can have devastating effects on female journalists’ career trajectories: they may stop writing, no longer report on important topics, or have their job advancement opportunities diminished by the tarnishing of their reputations and journalistic credibility. They fear for their safety and that of their families, and experience invasions into their privacy.

In addition to the effects on individual journalists, the OSCE report says online harassment poses a threat to the press as a whole. OSCE, which conducted targeted research, surveys and workshops between 2015 and 2017, presented some key recommendations for taking action in the report. These recommendations were directed to policymakers and civil society, media organizations and individual journalists.

The report made these recommendations for media organizations:

  • Respect the needs of individual journalists. Each journalist has her own level of privacy, risk and exposure.
  • Designate a point person who is responsible for collecting reports of online harassment from journalists and engaging other parts of the media organization, such as legal, management and information technology teams.
  • Provide training in supportive and empathetic response and trauma response and effects.
  • Train journalists in where, when and how to report online abuses. Develop various protocols for handling social media accounts in the event of a coordinated attack.
  • Discuss possible strategies with the target of the online abuse and determine how legal and IT teams and colleagues might help.
  • Practice information security techniques throughout the news workflow.
  • Learn how hardware, software, mobile technologies and other workplace platforms leave data and information exposed. Train staff on encryption solutions to workflow.
  • Determine how social media will be used/required for your journalists. Do you have a social media policy? How flexible is it to accommodate different needs of different journalists?

Learn More:

Read the full, final reports, including the latest Communiqué on the growing safety threat to female journalists online on the RFoM website at http://www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media

Follow the campaign on Twitter @osce_rfom and the hashtag #SOFJO to keep up with the latest developments.

It’s getting kind of…dicey. Rethinking risk for journalists

IN THE HEADLINES

  • A UNESCO panel at the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women reported that both online and offline attacks on women journalists are on the rise.
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists spoke to a dozen sources for this report on the dangers journalists (and their families) face offline when they report on white supremacists, often without digital security support.
  • For your #weekendreading: Amnesty International has issued a new report, Toxic Twitter – A Toxic Place for Women. Broken into eight interactive chapters, it’s a worthwhile, in-depth read.
  • Yes! We can feel it…Female politicians in Scotland call on Twitter to curtail attacks on women.
  • And Fast Company has two rich reads for you: their cover story, “DId We Create This Monster? How Twitter Turned Toxic” and “19 Ways Twitter Can Make Itself Safer Right Now.” The first looked at how the company’s ethos of free speech enabled trolls to thrive on the platform (with some help from lack of internal clarity and insufficient resources to combat trolls and bots). The second presented experts’ suggestions on pragmatic actions Twitter could take to reduce the degree to which it facilitates abuse.
  • The Michigan House moves to criminalize cyberbullying. Will the Michigan Senate take up the bill? A close look at the legislation.

 

POLL: Does your newsroom have a policy to deal with online harassment of reporters?

 

 

Yes

 

 

No

 

 

Not sure

 

TROLLBUSTERS IN THE NEWS

Michelle Ferrier speaks about online harassment on a panel at ONA in September 2015.

WATCH this ONA keynote featuring Michelle Ferrier and others. [September, 2015]

ON YOUR TO-DO LIST

Stay Safe Online

If you haven’t checked on the security of your personal information in awhile, take a moment to to safeguard against online abuse using TrollBusters’ digital hygiene course.

Then, check out these other great resources on the web.

  • This free MOOC on edX will teach you to “think like a hacker but behave as a security expert.”
  • Or, check out VAWnet, an online library of resources on gender-based violence.

Facebook DELETE? What should you do?

IN THE HEADLINES

Thinking you want to #deletefacebook? Here’s some advice from around the web.

  • Step one: If you’re not “utterly horrified” yet, this article in The Guardian will help. A Facebook whistleblower says he warned Facebook back in 2011 that it should protect user data better from third-party developers to avoid a “black market” for user data. He alleges executives consciously turned a blind eye to abuses.
  • So what might Facebook and all these third-party developers have on you? If you want a Flashback Friday on steroids (or just to archive your data before you delete your account), CNBC offers this primer on how to download the “entire history of your life on Facebook.”

  • Next, ask yourself, do you have what it takes (to delete rather than deactivate)? The Washington Post talked with people who tried.
  • As an additional anti-surveillance measure, you can block Facebook’s tracking with Privacy Badger, the Electronic Frontier Foundation reports.
  • A big reason Cambridge Analytica was able to exploit people’s data was because Facebook allowed third-party developers to access more user data than it should have. While what those apps can access has now been reduced to your name, profile and email address, you might also want to check which apps you’ve allowed to access your data in the past. You can see and delete apps you don’t trust under Settings / Apps. But note that, as CNNMoney explains, you may have to reach out to the app to have them delete your data on their end too.
  • If by now you’re entirely fed up, you can always pack your passport and move to Europe. There, a new law, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), will take effect on May 25, 2018. It has profound ramifications for any company who does business in the EU (including U.S. companies like Facebook). Among other things, it gives consumers greater protection over and access to their data; imposes financial penalties for companies that fail to protect it; and requires active consent to companies’ data protection practices. WiredUK breaks it down for you.

TROLLBUSTERS IN THE NEWS

Gap Analysis Yields New Projects, New Partnerships

At the Internet Freedom Festival, Michelle Ferrier, founder of TrollBusters, led a design-thinking workshop of digital security advocates to identify needs and global activities. She used a matrix that examined impacts on journalists before, during and after an attack and the research, education, policy and technical work being done to support freedom of expression, digital security and other supports for journalists. Read more about the matrix of resources that emerged from the session (and how you can add to it).

Assess Your Threat–in Russian, Turkish and Hindi

TrollBusters Infographic Hindi

ON YOUR TO-DO LIST

Resources You Can Use

If you haven’t checked on the security of your personal information in awhile, take a moment to safeguard against online abuse using TrollBusters’ digital hygiene course.

Then, check out these other great resources on the web.

  • #HerNetHerRights, by the European Women’s Lobby, is a resource pack on ending violence against women and girls in Europe.
  • This Digital First Aid Kit from Rapid Response Network is available in six languages.

TrollBusters Represented at UN Commission on the Status of Women

IN THE HEADLINES

  • As her husband takes pot shots at the media via Twitter, First Lady Melania Trump hosted social media executives at the White House to discuss curbing online harassment this week. Unsurprisingly, Jimmy Kimmel had a field day with the news. And all we did was a simple search  >>>>

Donald Trump Tweet search

  • They may be famous, but celebs face trolling too. Celebrities talk about how they handle online shaming in the virtual spaces where they hoped to connect with fans.
  • A new study shows how online harassment deters women around the world from running for office.
  • The NetzDG law in Germany is a relatively new experiment in forcing social media companies to police abusive content online. Lawmakers are now pushing for a way to contest the takedown of legitimate content that may get blocked.
  • And a Pennsylvania lawmaker has a new solution to cyberbullying: fine the parents of the offender up to $750 per incident, The Washington Post reports.

TrollBusters Represented at UN Commission on the Status of Women

TrollBusters founder Michelle Ferrier was an invited panelist for two events hosted by the International Association of Women in Radio and Television at the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women: “Beyond a Pretty Face: Tackling Gender Bias in Media Industries,” and “MeTooOnline: Workshopping Solutions to Counter Cyber Violence Against Women.” She spoke about the chilling effect online harassment has on journalists and the offline and professional consequences of online misogyny and abuse of women journalists. READ MORE.

CSW panel
From left: Jennifer Adams, Project Officer for Safety of Female Journalists Online (#sofjo), Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Representative on Freedom of the Media; Dr. Michelle Ferrier, Founder of Troll-Busters.com; Dr. Dubravka Simonovic, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women; and Colleen Lowe, Chief Executive Officer, Gender Links of South Africa.

We ran out in Spain… and New York! And someone even took our sample:-( Our popular mobile cards are now available as a card deck. Each card describe types of online threats then provides guidance on what to do if you’re being harassed. Card packs are $5. Send an email to report@troll-busters.com if you’d like to buy a pack for yourself or for someone who needs help…or a hint.

ON YOUR DIGITAL TO-DO LIST

Use These Tools to Stay Safe Online

Safeguard against online abuse using TrollBusters’ digital hygiene course. Then, check out these other great resources on the web:

  • The Digital Security Helpline, from AccessNow, provides advice and emergency assistance for those at risk of attack online.
  • Digital and Mobile Security for Journalists and Bloggers, created by International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) Knight Fellow Jorge Luis Sierra, is now available in Arabic.

International Women’s Day – Action Around the World

IN THE HEADLINES

  • It’s a small win. Twitter will no longer allow trolls to encourage you to commit suicide or self-harm. Vice’s Motherboard writes about the new rules.
  • Microsoft researches digital civility. ICYMI, Microsoft recently released its 2017 Digital Civility Study. The study included respondents from 23 countries and asked them about their experiences with 20 different online harassment “risks.” Download the study. Hashtags #Challenge4Civility and #Im4DigitalCivility.
  • Electronic bully prevention. New Jersey law now requires school districts to include cyberbullying in their anti-bullying policies.
  • Not on this land. The Navajo Nation has made cyberbullying illegal where the harassment is sent or received on the reservation, and perpetrated by a tribe member.

Global-Resource_Guide_Map

Help build a global resource guide! Check out this project in collaboration with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Recommend resources, research and projects to support journalists online.

IN THE REPLAY

Michelle Ferrier leads a session at the Internet Freedom Forum on March 9 in Spain.

Brainstorming Solutions to Online Harassment at the Internet Freedom Festival

The Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Women’s Media Foundation and Troll-Busters.com held a session at the Internet Freedom Festival last week on “Tackling Online Harassment.” The session connected a variety of groups and individuals working on the issue in a “two-hour interactive discussion intended to spur a solutions-oriented approach to addressing the persistent issue of online harassment of women in the media.” Read more.

An IFF session hosted by Coding Rights used counternarratives as a way to fight online abuse of women. Check out our story and the memes and gifs created.

TrollBusters was featured in Liberation as one solution for journalists. TrollBusters Advisory Board Member Sandra Ordonez, of the Open Technology Fund, is one of the co-founders of #InternetFF. Read more about the gathering of technoglitterati here (in French).

TrollBusters was also featured in the Spanish press (in Spanish). “El acoso es increíble. Recibir amenazas de muerte o de violación se está volviendo cada vez más habitual”, afirma. “No se trata solo de denigrar su trabajo; rebuscan en las redes sociales para acosar desde todos los frentes. El objetivo es someterlas a toda la presión posible para intentar que se vengan abajo.”

ON YOUR TO-DO LIST

Check Your Digital Hygiene

online protection rx header graphic

If you haven’t checked on the security of your personal information in awhile, take a moment to to safeguard against online abuse using TrollBusters’ digital hygiene course.

Then, check out these other great resources on the web.

  • The Women’s Media Center Speech Project has numerous resources and articles designed to raise awareness of online harassment, and its effects, particularly on women.
  • Security in a Box is loaded with digital security tips. Developed by Front Line Defenders and Tactical Technology Collective, it has a page to help you “explore your digital shadow” and community guides for those in high-risk countries or professions.
  • For your business: Check out this great explainer from Inc. on the nuances of online harassment, and how to respond.

How To Fight Imposter Tweets

Weekly News, Training & Resources

IN THE HEADLINES

  • Overdue: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey says he’s not “proud of how people have taken advantage of our service, or our inability to address it fast enough.” He announced an RFP to help measure the health of conversations on the platform
  • Online harassment vs. the First Amendment: A liberal blog and a local tea party chapter joined forces to challenge an online harassment law in Ohio saying it would inhibit free speech. Their suit was dismissed.
  • It’s not just Twitter: Lincoln Park Strategies, RAD Campaign and Craig Newmark of craigconnects surveyed more than 1,000 people about online harassment. The results, presented in an easy-to-scan infographic, may surprise you.

IN YOUR MAILBOX

TrollBusters cardsNew from TrollBusters! Our infographic on what to do if you’re being harassed online are now available as cards. The front details the types of threats that journalists experience online. The back tells you what you should do next. Email us if you’d like us to send you one for yourself or a set for your newsroom! Card packs are $5 each. Postage is included in the cost.

What We Can Learn From #Parkland

TrollBusters founder Michelle Ferrier writes about the case of Alex Harris, a Miami-Herald journalist who was harassed online after bots and others doctored her tweets. Read more in What We Can Learn from #Parkland.

ON YOUR CALENDAR

Save the Date!

There are lots of women-centric events happening this month and TrollBusters will be there:

  • The #InternetFF will fight censorship and surveillance March 5-9 in Spain. TrollBusters, along with the International Women’s Media Foundation and the Committee to Protect Journalists are hosting a workshop on building global supports for womxn journalists: Learn more.
  • March 8 is International Women’s Day. Follow #IWD2018.
  • We’ll be following the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women #CSW62 from March 12-23. TrollBusters Founder Dr. Michelle Ferrier will present as a guest of the International Association of Women in Radio & Television on #MeToo and online harassment. The review theme for #CSW62 is “participation in and access of women to the media, and information and communications technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women.” http://ow.ly/YOQu30iJEp

Want to Avoid Online Abuse? “Be an Androgynous Cat.”

IN THE HEADLINES

  • She Made Our List: Our heroine this month is Moira Donegan, who created the “Shitty Media Men” list in a private Google document. The list was designed to help young women in media avoid taking jobs that would expose them to sexual harassment, sexual assault and worse. It was intended to serve as a whisper network to women newer to the media industry who may not have had the luxury of access to the traditional “word of mouth” networks. When Katie Roiphe outed Donegan as the creator of the list in Harper’s, Donegan was faced with an onslaught of online harassment. Recently, she wrote about her journey in a compelling piece in The Cut. It’s a must-read.
  • “Want to avoid harassment? Be an androgynous cat”: Female startup founder Julia Enthoven shares the connections she found between gender and online abuse.
  • Fake Tweets Meet Russian Trolls: Miami Herald reporter Alex Harris was covering the Parkland shooting when criticism of her attempt to contact students in the wake of the disaster turned more menacing. Trolls doctored several of her tweets to make it look like she had asked if the shooter was white or if photo or video was available of the dead bodies. USA Today wrote about how this and similar trolling incidents intersect with fake news and Russian bots.
  • Nurses Face Online Abuse: Research shows that in New Zealand, nurses are among the groups vulnerable to cyberbullying as a result of their work. An article in The Conversation asks what should employers be doing to protect them.
  • Enough, She Says: UK Prime Minister Theresa May made headlines when she advocated banning abuse of politicians and public figures online and punishing social media corporations who enable it. Arguments ensued about the role of free speech and technology platforms in a democracy.

TROLLBUSTERS IN THE NEWS

New Book Features TrollBusters

A new book, Mediating Misogyny: Gender, Technology and Harassment, features a chapter from TrollBusters founder Michelle Ferrier about her efforts and online abuse of women journalists. Co-written with Dr. Nisha Garud, the chapter focuses on the individual and news-gathering impacts of online abuseRead more.

“The impact of online harassment is the same as the impact of physical harassment, namely intimidation inhibits women journalists from doing their jobs.” –  Elisa Lees Munoz

TrollBusters-infographic

READ as Elisa Lees Munoz, executive director of the International Women’s Media Foundation, writes about “How Digital Harassment of Female Journalists Threatens Freedom of Expression” in MediaShift. Featuring TrollBusters! [FEB. 27, 2018]

DON’T FORGET: TAKE OUR SURVEY! TrollBusters in conjunction with the International Women’s Media Foundation is still soliciting your experiences as a journalist or writer. Take the survey.

ON YOUR TO-DO LIST

Stay Safe

online protection rx header graphic
Time for an online security refresher? TrollBusters’ digital hygiene lessons will have you up to speed in no time.

Then, check out these other great resources on the web.

New Book Features TrollBusters – Mediating Misogyny: Gender, Technology and Harassment

Mediating Misogyny book coverA new book, Mediating Misogyny: Gender, Technology and Harassment, features a chapter from TrollBusters founder Dr. Michelle Ferrier about her efforts to curtail online abuse of women journalists. Co-authored with Dr. Nisha Garud, assistant journalism professor at San Jose State University, the piece focuses on the impacts of online abuse on individual journalists and news-gathering, reporting and engagement processes.

The chapter describes a “chilling effect” that happens when groups such as trolls on social media platforms make it difficult for others to exert their rights to freedom of expression. When pressure through online harassment is applied to silence individual journalists, the “chilling effect” extends to the free press as a whole.

“The chilling effect on individual journalists and journalistic lines of inquiry can lead to the silencing of diverse voices in the media, the technological takedown of a media site, or the abandonment of a line of investigative inquiry,“ the authors write.

They note that online harassment mimics the patterns of oppression and power differentials in the real world, disproportionately harming and silencing women, and ethnic and religious minorities. The problem is intensified by the requirement that journalists “bring their authentic, real identities to their digital work.” The chapter cites data from a 2013 study by the  International Women’s Media Foundation that found that ⅔ of the 149 female journalists they surveyed had been the victims of work-related threats or abuse.

Furthermore, the authors write, “Women journalists often are the targets of some of the most severe forms of online harassment such as rape threats, death threats and hate speech.”

Ferrier, an associate professor at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, is currently working with international partners to expand the International Women’s Media Foundation 2015 survey work. Journalists are invited to complete the 2018 survey.

The chapter offers steps female journalists can take to prevent online attacks. Among them:

  • Decide whether to use your real name or a pseudonym in your professional endeavors. If you use your real name, trolls can use it to find your physical address and family members.
  • Create separate social media accounts for your personal and professional endeavors.
  • Remove your address and other personal information from aggregator sites.
  • Communicate securely through encrypted channels such as Signal (not through email) with your sources.
  • Use the Tor browser for privacy.  
  • Learn self-defense, even if you aren’t reporting on what you would consider dangerous assignments.
  • Report any attacks you do experience to management, friends, colleagues and the police.

Bloodletting of Bot Accounts in #TwitterLockOut

Weekly News, Training & Resources

IN THE HEADLINES

Twitter Purge Tweet#TwitterLockOut hashtag activity peaked on Wednesday as Twitter purged bot accounts from users’ networks. Twitter’s actions — explained in this blog post — affected many Conservative accounts, prompting a #MAGA move to platforms like Gab. Russian bots had recently been active spreading hate around the Parkland, Florida high school shooting as reported in the New York Times.

Olympic Athletes Offer Inspiration: Even sports stars at the top of their game have to put up with trolling. Lindsey Vonn said she sleeps well at night despite receiving hate tweets after a mistake in the Super-G. Charlie White also shared how he handles Twitter trolls. The Independent details other athletes’ strategies for staying focused despite a barrage of negativity on social media.

OSCE Report Provides Recommendations for Media Management: A new report from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)’s Representative on Freedom of the Media details the threat online abuse of female journalists poses to freedom of the media. Founder of TrollBusters Dr. Michelle Ferrier worked with the OSCE on the report, part of the 2017 relaunch of OSCE’s Safety of Female Journalists online campaign (#SOFJO). In addition to the effects on individual journalists, online harassment poses a threat to the press as a whole, says the report. OSCE, which conducted targeted research, surveys and workshops between 2015 and 2017, presented some key recommendations for taking action in the report. Read our recap of their recommendations for media organizations or follow OSCE at @osce_rfom to stay up to date.

In other international headlines:

  • In Pakistan, the non-governmental organization DRF released a report, “Digital (In)Security of Journalists in Pakistan.” It shows that most journalists had experienced harassment in some form, which had in some cases led to self-censorship. Read the highlights.
  • In Australia, the proposed Dolly’s Law would work much like a domestic violence restraining order, The proposed law, named after a 14-year-old who took her own life after being cyberbullied, would ban perpetrators from social media, or at least from contacting their victims online.
  • And in Nigeria, Hajiya Maryam Ado-Haruna is calling for measures to prevent Gender-Based Violence Online.

TROLLBUSTERS IN THE NEWS

ijnet story screencap

READ this piece about TrollBusters’ services by Sherry Ricchiardi in IJNet. [February 20, 2018]

Ferrier presents at Scripps College

LISTEN as Michelle Ferrier talks to CBC’s Sook-Yin Lee about how TrollBusters is fighting to keep women writers online. [March 12, 2016]

IN THE CLASSROOM

Curriculum Teaches Student Reporters Safety Principles for Dangerous Assignments

Five organizations have come together to help the next generation of journalism students prepare for dangerous assignments, whether they involve war, organized crime and cartels, political revolution, or digital surveillance. The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation and the Medill School of Journalism’s National Security Journalism Initiative partnered with the Facebook Journalism Project, Reporters Without Borders and A Culture of Safety to create the four-session curriculum designed for use in reporting courses. Contact the Foley Foundation for access to the Journalist Safety Guide.

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Report Makes Recommendations for Policymakers

A new report from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)’s Representative on Freedom of the Media details the threat online abuse of female journalists poses to freedom of the media. Founder of Trollbusters Michelle Ferrier authored the report, part of the 2017 relaunch of OSCE’s Safety of Female Journalists online campaign (#SOFJO). This installment of the report focuses on recommendations for civil society and policymakers.

The #SOFJO campaign sought to spread awareness of online abuse and its impacts on female journalists as well as provide tools, resources and other support to those who have been targeted.

Michelle Ferrier SOFJO campaign posterOnline harassment can have a silencing effect, particularly on female journalists, who, the report states, are trolled more often than their male counterparts. These threats, which can include rape, assault, exile and death, can lead to emotional distress, physical ailments and physical attack. In addition, the attacks can have devastating effects on female journalists’ career trajectories: they may stop writing, no longer report on important topics, use a pen name or have their job advancement opportunities diminished by the tarnishing of their reputations and journalistic credibility online. They fear for their safety and that of their families, and experience invasions into their privacy and prolonged stress.

Beyond the effects on individual journalists, online harassment, the OSCE report says, poses a threat to the press as a whole. OSCE, which conducted targeted research, surveys and workshops between 2015 and 2017, presented some key recommendations for taking action in the report. These recommendations were directed to policymakers and civil society, media organizations and individual journalists.

The report made these recommendations for policymakers and civil society:

• Consider providing physical and online support to targets of online abuse.
• Develop better education and training of journalists, management and information technology specialists about workflow protections and data management.
• Examine how social media policies may affect private and off-line time of journalists.
• Provide training to law enforcement to better investigate and prosecute online abuses.
• Work with technology partners to develop better reporting practices.
• Enforce existing legal frameworks and find new technological remedies to counter attacks by bots and smart mobs.

Learn More:
Read the full, final reports, including the latest Communiqué on the growing safety threat to female journalists online on the RFoM website at http://www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media

Follow the campaign on Twitter at @osce_rfom and the hashtag #SOFJO to keep up with the latest developments.