Online abuse, trolling and cyber bullying are rampant in cyberspace. Research by software security firm Norton found that 76 per cent of women under age 30 have faced some form of online abuse or harassment. The problem is a pertinent one in an age where social interactions, education and professional activities take place via a digital medium. It is important to note that many of these women never report incidents out of societal fear. It is crucial that when faced with harassment of this kind, people are aware of the options available to them to counter this abuse.
Consumer awareness programme Women Act Against Trolls (WAAT) provides a central web resource at projectwaat.org. The web page compiles information about cybercrime cells in India, cybercrime laws in the country, digital security tool kits, resources to help those facing cyber bullying, and a discussion board where people can share their stories.
This initiative is a part of OLX WebAware, a consumer safety initiative by OLX to educate its users about safe online practices and guidelines, when transacting on its platform.
The web resource will aim to build resilience and a community of support for those who have faced online abuse in order to keep them online. Additionally, DEF and OLX will host workshops in colleges in NCR to educate users on basic digital security tactics that should be used by everyday users.
“Social media is full of incidents of online abuse, trolling and cyber bullying on a daily basis. In the last few years, the number of abusive and unwanted intruders and trolls has only increased on social media and people are losing their right to express themselves freely or fear the abusive counter. In other words, virtual public spaces are often spaces that are antisocial, violent, intimidating, unfriendly, untrustworthy and unsafe. There is a need to tackle this issue, and sensitively,” says DEF Founder-Director Osama Manzar.
Said, Irwin Preet Singh Anand, COO, OLX India, “Online trolling is a reflection of the ailments plaguing our society. Limiting them requires a mind-set change more than anything else. There is a huge gender gap in the internet population, one big reason for this is the insensitive behaviour towards women users. Our CSR initiative supported by Digital Empowerment Foundation, is to do our bit to empower women to discourage such behaviour and to help them navigate to report incidents. While WAAT offers knowledge and support, it is our collective duty to create safer online space for all.”
About Digital Empowerment Foundation
Established in 2002, Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) aims to connect unreached and underserved communities of India in an effort to bring them out of digital darkness and equip them with access to information. With the belief ‘Inform, Communicate and Empower,’ DEF finds sustainable digital interventions to overcome information poverty in rural and remote locations of India, and empower communities with digital literacy, digital tools and last mile connectivity. In the last 15 years, DEF has marked its presence in more than 345 locations in 100 districts of 22 Indian states, empowering communities with digital literacy, digital tools and last mile access.
DEF’s Research & Advocacy wing works extensively in the area of Internet Rights, assessing the impact of digital inclusion, the effects of digital exclusion, and human rights online.