In a time when our professional and personal lives are closely intertwined with the digital world, online abuse has become a terrible reality.
By Sophie CheckFirst, 18 January 2024
Recognizing the need to protect its staff from the dangers of online abuse, ObSINT founding member Centre for Information Resilience (CIR) has released, through the voice of VP Nina Jankowicz, a comprehensive Online Abuse Policy. This internal material sets out robust support mechanisms and guidance for its staff, consultants and volunteers. In November, CIR released another internal material. Both policies align completely with our core-value “A diverse, safe and caring work environment” (ObSINT Guideline chapter 5).
Nina Jankowicz herself experienced online abuse. She delivered an impactful keynote at the most recent EU DisinfoLab conference, recounting her personal experience.
The primary goal of CIR’s Online Abuse Policy is to provide a structured approach to support individuals facing online abuse related to their work for the organisation. The scope encompasses various forms of online abuse, including harassment, trolling, flaming and doxxing. It emphasises the severity of such incidents, acknowledging that even a single occurrence can have serious consequences.
To establish clarity, the policy provides precise definitions of online abuse and doxxing. Understanding the severity and pervasiveness of online abuse is crucial for effective response and support. CIR underscores the importance of notifying managers or project directors promptly and utilising platform reporting mechanisms.
The organisation takes a proactive stance by offering support mechanisms, including a corporate DeleteMe account which provides ongoing scanning and removal of personal information from online and offline source. The CIR commits to assisting individuals facing doxxing or violent threats with safe lodging, legal support, and crisis PR support.
Affiliates are reminded to be cautious about their online presence, understanding that public information can influence perceptions of CIR and themselves. The policy discourages engagement with trolls or harassers, emphasising a zero-tolerance approach towards online hatred and discrimination.
CIR also provides a list of trusted resources for those experiencing online abuse, including support through its Employee Assistance Program. Employees can access a 24/7 counselling and advice line. Trusted resources for those undergoing online abuse are listed with organisations such as Bloom by Chayn, The Online Violence Response Hub, Crash Override Network, Right to Be, Glitch UK, and PEN America Online Harassment Field Manual.
In unveiling its Online Abuse Policy, CIR reaffirms its commitment to fostering a safe and secure digital environment for its staff. By combining proactive measures, clear guidelines, and comprehensive support mechanisms, CIR aims to empower its workforce in navigating the challenges posed by online abuse. CIR can also inspire other organisations and companies to implement such policies.
Photo: Joice Kelly on Unsplash