Combatting Cyber Violence for Women and Girls: Writing the Web
Made by Amira Dhalla
80 - 100 minutes
In this three-part series learners focus on understanding the impact of cyber violence against women and girls, creating safer places online, knowing how to address bullying or attacks when they happen, and participating in online communities in a supportive manner. Activities will take young women and girls from understanding online violence to actively advocating against it.
Web Literacy CompetenciesComposing Remixing Accessibility Security Coding
- Identify common practices of safety policies on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter etc.
- Write a mock safety policy that focuses on how to stop abuse online and support those being abused.
- Embed their safety policy into a webpage.
- Self-assess their use of safety policies for the future.
- Pens and markers
- Printed copies of The Verge article
- Internet-connected computers (for participants and facilitator)
- A projector (optional)
Background and Preparation:
- Follow this link to the Thimble activity template.
- Click on the green "Remix" button in the upper right-hand corner of the window to go into the project's code.
- Click on the "Index.html" panel in the upper left-hand corner of the coding window.
- Follow the steps in the description to complete the activity.
Millions of women and girls around the world are victims of cyber violence or threat. Roughly 73% of women are abused online. For the internet to remain an open and safe place, we need to understand why and how cyber violence occurs to be able to take a more effective stand in stepping in. The second part of this module focuses on understanding how organizations should respond to abuse online and steps that can be taken to support those that have been hurt.
Before the session, do the activity on your own to become familiar with the basic concepts. Note, do not show your activity until after the attendees have completed their own to avoid sharing sample answers.
Facilitators should review the tips on designing events for women and girls guide in order to prepare for the activity.
1. Introduction5 minutes
Welcome your learners to the session and discuss how they are there to learn more about cyber violence and its causes and effects. Start by creating a safe space for the discussion and lay some ground rules:
- Everyone’s opinions are valid and important. The information shared by individuals within the session will be held with respect and anonymity.
- The conversation is not meant to discredit any person, organization, group, demographic or gender.
- The conversation is being held with the intent to understand how to make the internet an open and safe place.
- ..... [more information on creating guidelines]
Ask if there are any other norms that might benefit the group? Once you have created a space where individuals feel they can contribute shift the conversation to why you, the facilitator, think cyber violence against women and girls is an important topic.
Afterwards, have learners list their top used social media sites or applications that they use regularly on their mobile devices and computers. Once you’ve exhausted a list, ask the room if they have previously read or know of the safety policies on those platforms.
2. Reviewing existing safety policies25 minutes
Break-up the room into 4-5 groups and assign each group a different social media site. Don’t assign Twitter to a group as individuals will review the safety policy further in the activity. Ask each group to research the social media site’s safety policy and answer these questions:
- How can people report abuse?
- Where does it tell individuals to go for support or help?
- Does the platform ever review decisions?
- What actions (if any) does the platform do immediately, what does it do in the future?
- What actions (if any) does the platform do to reprimand the attacker?
Note: If the policy does not have information for the above questions, that is important to include in the answers.
Ask individuals to find the policy themselves or share direct links to:
- Whatsapp (Try finding it online! The closest we came was their Legal Page)
Have each group share their findings with the whole group. Reflect upon the findings together. Some suggested prompts:
- Are any of them similar? How?
- Do you notice what might be missing in each or all of them?
- What would you change?
- Which platform has the best safety policy? Why?
- Which platform has the worst safety policy? Why?
Proceed to pull-up Twitter’s safety policy and review it as a group. Compare it to the previous platforms and see how it ranks. Discuss as a group whether the safety policy is satisfactory or not. Hand out copies or display on a large screen the article on The Verge titled “Twitter CEO: We suck at dealing with abuse.” Review the article and Dick Costolo, the CEO of Twitter’s, memo as a group.
3. Writing a safety policy15 minutes
Ask attendees to imagine they are an employee of Twitter and are tasked with the important job of updating the organization’s online safety policy.
What are the 3-5 steps Twitter will take to stop abuse when it happens? Make sure the steps are:
- Detailed as possible. Include exact steps. I.e. Step 1: A Twitter employee will direct message the abuser and inform them that an unknown individual has reported them for making harmful comments.
- Include what they will do if the abuse continues. I.e. Will they message the attacker? Will they report the abuse to the police?
What are the 3-5 steps Twitter will take to support the individual being abused? Make sure the steps are:
- Detailed as possible. Include exact steps. I.e. Step 1: A Twitter employee will direct message the abused with instructions on how to document the abusive messages and content.
- Include immediate and future solutions. I.e. What steps will be taken now and what steps will be taken in the next week, month etc.
- Include links or ways to get more information. I.e. Is there somewhere the victim can go to learn more about how to deal with the abuse.
4. Remixing in Thimble25 minutes
Direct attendees to open the project template in Thimble, help them login with an individual account.
Once logged in, have them click the large green "Remix" button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. That button will take them into the code for this project.
Attendees will see a sidebar called "FILES" with the different parts of this project. They will see a section of code in the middle and they will see a preview of the webpage on the right. Click on index.html in the "FILES" sidebar, and then edit that page (which is the main page of the activity) while following the directions on the page. Try this yourself and model the process with your projected computer to help them understand the set up or "development environment" inside Thimble.
Essentially, at this point attendees will follow the instructions to replace the text with their new policy. They can change the background image to other Twitter-like designs by visiting suggested Twitter backgrounds (or other ones if they choose) and selecting the new image to use. Left-click the image, select ‘copy image location’ and replace the new link in the background section of the editor.
Give attendees about 20 minutes to input their new policy. Encourage attendees to help one another and answer any questions they have while moving through the directions. Those finished early can also view the “style.css” tab in the FILES section and play around with the styling of their title, text and background.
5. Reflection10 minutes
Ask if anyone wants to share their policy with the group. Review 3 different policies together. What did individuals do that were similar and different?
Once completed facilitate a reflective discussion of the learners experience.
- How important are safety policies on a site?
- Are they more likely to read or look at safety policies in the future?
- How can platforms ensure that everyone using their service reads and understands their safety policy? What can they do different than they do now?
- How important are safety policies in our everyday or communities? Should schools, libraries, cafes, programs have them as well? How should they be different or similar?