IGF 2020 WS #280 Protecting prime targets of a weaponized internet


Organizer 1: Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group

Speaker 1: Pratik Govindrao Ghumade, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Pratik Govindrao Ghumade, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Pratik Govindrao Ghumade, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Birds of a Feather - Classroom - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

 What is the prevalence of trolling and does this vary by type of social media platform?  What is the profile of ‘typical’ trolls (may include motivation, the rationale for choosing victims, number of victims, the prevalence of trolls, etc)  Is trolling a stepping stone/gateway to other negative behaviors?  Can any differences be identified in the online and offline behavior of trolls?  What is the profile of ‘typical’ victims (may include gender, age, political beliefs, religious beliefs, etc)?  What impact does trolling have on victims' online and offline behavior?  Can any practical methods be identified to challenge trolling? How effective have past interventions been?

Online harassment is a digital rights issue. At its worst, it causes real and lasting harms to its targets, a fact that must be central to any discussion of harassment. Unfortunately, it's not easy to craft laws or policies that will address those harms without inviting government or corporate censorship and invasions of privacy—including the privacy and free speech of targets of harassment. But, as we discuss below, there are ways to craft effective responses, rooted in the core ideals upon which the Internet was built, to protect the targets of harassment and their rights.


GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals


Outline: Internet used by hundreds of millions of people around the world is a platform to debate, network, and share information. But for many including women, non-binary or genderqueer individuals, journalists, activists, human rights defenders, public figures, and politicians, the Internet is a platform where violence, abuse, and trolling against them are flourishing. These individuals/groups are increasingly facing online abuse and harassment that poisons genuine debate and, in some cases, can lead to real psychological harm. This solutions-oriented workshop will discuss how individuals/groups can address and combat doxing online abuse/harassment, and trolling (including state-sponsored trolling). Description: This workshop will: inform participants about the risks of online abuse in the context of ‘information disorder’; help participants to recognize threats, and provide skills development and tools to assist in combatting online abuse. Intended Agenda: Introduction ~ 5 mins Our moderator will start this session with an introduction of different speakers and elaboration on the agenda and background of the workshop. Who is at risk or who is the prime target on the internet? With case studies. ~ 10 mins Moderator will open the session by talking about who are the prime targets on the internet. Moderator will talk about different studies conducted and why these are prime targets. Patterns in online abuse/harassment and trolling ~ 5 mins Recognizing and Responding to ‘Trolling’ and ‘Astroturfing’ ~ 5 mins Digital Safety Threats and Defensive Strategies ~ 10 mins Proposals for responses and solutions at the individual level, by organizations, and by platforms ~ 10 mins Platforms and government policies around online abuse/harassment and trolling ~ 10 mins Round Table Discussion ~ 20 mins Questions and Answers ~ 10 mins We will also open up the floor for the remote participants to comment and ask questions. Our on-site and online moderators will facilitate this session and may ask follow-up questions to encourage participants to interact. Summery ~ 5 mins The moderator will summarize the discussions. Speakers will be able to add final remarks if they wish.

Expected Outcomes

By the end of this workshop, participants will: 1. Have a deeper understanding of the impacts of online abuse on prime targets, journalism, information sharing, and freedom of expression; 2. Be more aware of the problem of malicious actors targeting individuals and other online communicators in disinformation/misinformation campaigns; 3. Understand the particular safety threats confronting women 4. Be able to more easily recognize malicious actors online, along with incidents of ‘astroturfing’, ‘trolling’, digital safety threats, and online abuse; 5. Be better equipped to combat ‘astroturfing’, ‘trolling’, digital safety threats, and online abuse in a gender-sensitive manner.

Onsite participation: We will be facilitating interaction between speakers and the audiences in four main ways: Speaker-to-speaker discussion The moderator will be starting the conversation by asking the guiding questions, the panel speakers are encouraged to contribute. The moderator will observe and balance the speaking time between the speakers through intervention. (E.g: The moderator will intervene in an appropriate manner when a speaker has spoken over proportionate and invite a speaker who has spoken less to provide more supplementation) Speaker and audience discussion In the first part of the round table discussion, the moderator will open the floor to both the audience and the speakers to discuss the question posed by the moderator. The question is designed to be relatable to most general topic’s daily experience to encourage participation and understanding of the topic. Q&A There will be a Q&A session after the second round table discussion. The audience is encouraged and given the chance to ask any question in relation to the topic. Survey The survey will be conducted through google forms. Interaction is encouraged in order to supplement our final report using audience contributions regarding the policy questions. Online participation: Remote participation is welcomed and encouraged in this workshop. The onsite and online moderators will work together to ensure the smooth flow of online participation, such that the online community will have opportunities to engage in the discussion and raise questions with an alternating pattern between onsite and remote participation. We will utilise the official online participation tool to include remote participants.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Online platforms play an important role in combating trolls, online abuse, and harassment. Platform responsibility should be linked to the effects of their activities on the quality of public debate. Laws must systematically investigate online harassment cases and prosecute and convict their perpetrators. This workshop proposal includes governments, private platforms, and civil society as responsible stakeholders.

Relevance to Theme: The relevant thematic track would be “Trust”. Trust relates to the security, stability, and resilience of the infrastructure, systems, and devices, and also to the need for people to be safe and secure.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: Survey, Google Forms