Understanding the Five Concern Areas
We arrived at five key “concern areas” following our conversations with civil society groups and a review of the recommended resource list we had compiled alongside civil society practitioners. Each of these concern areas pose particular difficulties for civil society organizations, often due to a lack of time, resources, or expertise. These areas are not comprehensive or mutually exclusive; as such, some resources will appear under multiple concern areas. We hope that categorizing the resources by concern area can help organizations save time in finding and accessing the information they need.
1. The Mechanics, Elements, and Scope of Disinformation
Concern area 1
Participants in our workshops often felt frustrated by the lack of transparent communication provided by large tech firms and expressed uncertainty about how disinformation campaigns, and subsequent policy changes, would impact their work. We hope that these resources on how computational propaganda functions will help practitioners better understand both the social and technical aspects of the problem. Resources in this category are largely explanatory and deal with topics such as junk news, elections, bots, polarization, and algorithms.
2. Strategies for Dealing with Disinformation
Concern area 2
Civil society practitioners frequently requested guidance on best practices for dealing with disinformation and were curious about policies that had been implemented in other parts of the world or at other organizations. As such, we have compiled resources that outline counter-strategies for dealing with computational propaganda. These strategies have been implemented at varying levels, including by intergovernmental organizations, national governments, platforms, and non-profits.
3. Avoiding amplification of junk news and maintaining public trust
Concern area 3
Media groups we spoke with raised concerns about participating in the spread of misinformation. We have thus compiled resources that can help organizations avoid amplification of junk news and, more broadly, maintain public trust in an era of declining faith in institutional actors. Resources in this category include tools for verifying online information, literature for non-profits on public trust, and more theoretical discussions on news credibility in a digital age.
4. Cybersecurity for Civil Society
Concern area 4
Due to their work with targeted groups and on contentious issues, civil society organizations may experience increased cybersecurity risks, including vulnerability to hacking, surveillance, and phishing attacks. At the same time, groups working in the non-profit sector may not possess the technical expertise or resources required to mitigate these risks. We have collated resources that provide guidance on online safety, data privacy, and practical cybersecurity solutions.
5. Online Harassment and Doxxing Risks
Concern area 5
Participants in the workshops were concerned about the personal and professional stakes at play in computational propaganda campaigns. Many civil society practitioners belonged to social groups being targeted by disinformation or had been the direct victim of hate speech and online harassment. Resources in this category address ways to prepare for and respond to online harassment and doxxing. Some resources are largely descriptive, while others offer step-by-step guides on protecting individuals and organizations.