Hollaback! has partnered with the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) to bring new tools and resources for women journalists. We’ve run a series of focus groups and workshops with journalists to understand their experiences with online harassment, what their needs are, and how together we can create solidarity against harassment.
Women journalists face online violence simply for doing their job and they are disproportionately targeted in comparison with their male peers. According to a 2019 survey conducted by the Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ, 90 % of female reporters in the USA and 70 % of reporters in Canada say that online harassment is the most dangerous threat to women in the profession. Another 2020 survey conducted by the International Center for Journalists (ICJ) and UNESCO revealed that 73% of women respondents said they had experienced online violence in connection with their work in the field of journalism. In a 2018 study by the International Federation of Journalists, 38% of women who experienced online abuse admitted to self-censorship and 63% said these attacks had had psychological effects such as anxiety, fear, or stress.
In response to this problem, we want to help journalists experiencing online harassment and offer them a safe space to share their stories and seek support. On Heartmob, people can describe their experiences and receive help in the form of supportive messages or asking a community of bystanders to report abusive behavior. Research on HeartMob showed that by labeling abusive behavior online as online harassment, HeartMob helps to validate the experiences of people harassed online and inspires bystanders to take action.
Thanks to a generous gift from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, we have been rolling out a series of updates to HeartMob in order to improve user experience. Over the next few months, we will be implementing other changes to create a secure community of women journalists inside Heartmob where they will be able to find other fellow journalists’ stories and connect to receive support from colleagues.
The collaboration with IWMF builds on the work of the IWMF’s Coalition Against Online Violence, created to enable collaboration between organizations addressing online attacks. It seeks to offer journalists support, bolsters their digital security, and empower the news media to keep its employees safer online. During Summer 2021, the Coalition will be launching the Online Violence Response Hub, a resource center where women will find the latest information on online abuse, including psychosocial trauma responses, digital safety guides, and more.