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From Ad Hoc to Prepared: Developing an Anti-Online Harassment Infrastructure

Hollaback!, Mozilla, and the Kairos Fellowship partnered to develop this open-source framework to help civil society organizations build preventative and reactive processes to support staff/volunteers who experience online harassment. The goals of these materials are to:

  • Reduce the impact of harassment
  • Reduce staff turnover
  • Reduce the impact of trauma on the team
  • Create a supportive and safe work environment
  • Build internal capacity for resilience
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Step One: Survey your team

Survey your team to assess who is most impacted by online harassment, what types of threats your staff are receiving, the degree to which staff are aware of existing internal resources, and how online harassment is impacting staff productivity. This survey will a) deepen your understanding of the degree to which online harassment is impacting your team, and b) help you develop a customized response based on your organization's specific needs. Here is a sample survey.

Step Two: Provide your team with a digital safety training

There are concrete efforts you can take as individuals or an organization to prevent online attacks. Our digital safety how-to guide can help guide you through some preventive steps that you can take to support your staff.

Step Three: Create a rapid response team

When responding to an immediate threat, online harassment survivors have stated the importance of organizations having a rapid response team that understands how serious online abuse is, and a process that helps employers respond accordingly. A Rapid Response Team helps staff, interns, and volunteers face the situation they’re in; finds actionable solutions quickly; and makes sure the survivor is cared for adequately. Learn more on how to do this in our How to Create a Rapid Response Team guide.

Step Four: Develop a fund for emergency support

Many of these ideas have been suggested by survivors as high value forms of support when experiencing or fearing doxxing or otherwise feeling unsafe. Feeling safe often requires financial resources that survivors wish they had. Some describe wishing they had a doxxing fund of $10-15K in case they needed to flee, but even much smaller amounts can make a big difference. Consider a budget of at least $1K per employee.

  • Paid hotel stays for x amount of time
  • Paid P.O. box
  • Paid Lyft rides
  • Paid protection services for x amount of time
  • Paid counseling services
  • Paid services to remove information (ex: deleteme, BrandYourself); or anonymize (ex: blur)

Step Five: Create a safety plan

Online harassment can escalate to physical danger. Ensure you have a safety plan in place for your office that takes into account specific staff’s needs. For example, in many organizations people of color, immigrants, and women are at increased risk and may need additional accommodations in a moment of crisis. Here is a sample safety plan for your office.

Step Six: Let job candidates know about the risk of online harassment, prior to offering the job

It’s important to let job candidates know during interviews that this job could put them at risk for online harassment. Although you don’t want to scare people, it can be useful to talk about the organization’s past experience with online harassment and the infrastructure that the organization has in place to protect employees and care for those who experience harassment. This will allow potential team members to make a decision that is right for them and their families. It may also lead to a reduction in staff turnover.

Step Seven: Once you’ve formalized your online harassment infrastructure, share it

Add the infrastructure to employee, volunteer, and intern policy manuals; include it in the onboarding of new team members; and email it out to staff every six months along with reminders to lock down their digital security. In the event of an emergency, your team will know what resources the organization can provide. You’ll also show the team you’ve got their back.