Dear friends and supporters,
This Thanksgiving, we’d love to take a moment to celebrate and say thank you.
We’ve come a long way from the days when “turn off your computer” and “what’s happening online isn’t real life” were normalized, typical responses to people’s concerns about online harassment and abuse. Just this week, Sir Tim Berners-Lee (known as the inventor of the web) announced a Contract for the Web, “a global plan of action to make our online world safe and empowering for everyone.” Even a few years ago, such language and consideration went largely unacknowledged.
We are so grateful to everyone who contributed your personal stories, voices, mindshare, talent, dollars, and time to the cause. Most of all, thank you for your love, support, and willingness to care about OnlineSOS and the people affected by online harassment and abuse.
You recognized online harassment and abuse as a problem before it became popular or obvious. You had the insight, foresight, and boldness to say something and even take action. Our community has contributed to the network of conversations, the shared understanding and movement that the status quo is not okay and that something can be done.
Thank you for being trailblazers, risk-takers, and innovators, for your commitment to impact the next generation of journalists and activists, women and girls, to thrive on the internet, free from online harassment and abuse.
As many of you know, I (Liz) quit my job at Morgan Stanley to start OnlineSOS, born out of a personal experience being stalked and threatened online with the desire to create solutions I wish I had. I’m so proud of what we accomplished.
Four years later, I’m excited to share with you the next chapter of OnlineSOS—an updated vision with new leadership to fit the evolving needs and times as we head into 2020. Terri Harel is our new Executive Director. She has been the driving force behind our efforts in 2019 (including our Into 2020: The State of Online Harassment report). She joins us from Classy.org and her days as a start-up co-founder and a writer and editor in music journalism and at a nonprofit news venture. Terri is a remarkable, thoughtful human being and I can’t imagine anyone more passionate and suited to lead the charge. I will remain on the board and move to being our board chair for continuity.
I couldn’t be more excited and grateful to be part of OnlineSOS. This year has been eye-opening not only to people’s experience with online harassment but also to the normalization of such behavior and its connections to so many of our time’s most pressing problems and questions: privacy, disinformation, advancement of technology and the role of the Internet in our day-to-day lives.
As Liz mentioned, this year we published a report that provided an in-depth look at online harassment. Whether you shared with us your experience of online harassment, provided feedback, offered us direction, or even had a quick conversation over coffee, thank you for your willingness to engage with us. You provided us with invaluable insight and support to continue this work.
In 2020, we will build on the report and maintain our commitment to supporting journalists and activists facing harassment.
These individuals already risk their safety to pull the threads powerful entities don’t want pulled, to tell stories that some would rather not have told. Online harassment is yet another threat to their work and an effective way to silence, exclude and spread fear. As we head into another contentious and charged election in 2020, it’s more important than ever to support one another. To empower people to work and speak safely and openly, our key focuses this year include:
1. An update and refresh of our DIY resources. We’re committed to providing people with the most up-to-date information when faced with harassment. We encourage newsrooms and other organizations to distribute these resources to their staff and constituencies or spin-off their own versions with information that best suits the specific needs of their audience.
If you’re interested in collaborating on a resource, please get in touch! We’d love to work with experts to make these as helpful and relevant as possible.
Have a question about online harassment that you want answered? Let us know and we’re happy to create a resource that answers it. If you have a question, it’s likely someone else does too.
2. The Online Stalking Legal Project. This initiative will provide information about cyberstalking laws and legal recourse for journalists experiencing harassment and stalking. More to come! Please stay tuned by signing up for our email list.
3. Collaboration, partnership and coalition-building that create concerted efforts against online harassment. If you’re interested in partnering on a specific project or the above programs, please let us know! We’d love to have a conversation with you.
If you ever face online harassment, please know that you’re not alone and that there is support for you.
In solidarity and support,
Liz, Terri, and the OnlineSOS team