Finalist 2021

Web Foundation Online Gender Based Violence

World Wide Web Foundation / Craig Walker / Feminist Internet

Craig Walker generated recommendations that secured public commitments from the world’s largest tech companies to tackle online gender-based violence.

Globally nearly 40% of women report being subjected to online violence, with the number being even higher among young women and girls. The World Wide Web Foundation, a non-profit organisation that advocates for a free and open web for everyone, set its first area of focus on tackling the violence and abuse that women disproportionately face online.

Working with the Web Foundation and Feminist Internet, Craig Walker ran a series of global workshops that generated recommendations and prototypes, which helped to secure public commitments from the world’s largest tech companies (Facebook, Google, TikTok and Twitter) to tackle online gender-based violence.

Design Brief

Conduct global workshops to generate recommendations and prototypes in order to underpin and secure public commitments from the world’s largest tech companies to tackle online gender-based violence

Globally nearly 40% of women report being subjected to online violence, with the number being even higher among young women and girls.

With the launch of its Tech Policy Design Lab, the World Wide Web Foundation, a non-profit organisation that advocates for a free and open web for everyone, set its first area of focus on tackling the violence and abuse that women disproportionately face online.

Craig Walker, working in partnership with Feminist Internet, was tasked with designing and facilitating the workshops and developing the outputs into recommendations. These recommendations formed the foundation for the commitments to address online gender-based abuse signed by four of the world’s biggest tech companies, Google, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok, at the 2021 UN Generation Equality Forum.


This project was developed by:

Design Process

The three online workshops brought together 120+ leaders from 35 countries with diverse perspectives and backgrounds to collaborate and create prototypes.

Participants worked in small, multi-stakeholder groups, each made up of representatives from tech companies, civil society organisations, regulatory bodies and academia.

Over the course of the three-hour workshops, the groups developed solutions and prototypes for content curation and reporting flows for specific scenarios. The scenarios focussed on the experiences and needs of highly visible women, such as politicians, journalists, activists and influencers.

Each scenario included a persona, a ‘human problem’ and a fictional app. The personas and human problems were developed based on the insights and findings from four multi-stakeholder consultations.

Participants in the workshops generated more than 10 prototypes, providing innovative and illustrative example solutions for creating safer online experiencers for women. These low-resolution prototypes were developed into higher resolution digital prototypes by Craig Walker.

The prototypes outline a range of innovative concepts for solving women’s experiences in curating content (posts and comments) and reporting abuse.

A micro-site and detailed report were created to share the recommendations and workshop approach in detail with the goal of providing inspiration and tangible starting points for policy and product teams within tech companies. The complete prototypes and detailed personas are available for download from the microsite.

The report outlined eight key recommendations, four each across the two themes of curation and reporting. Each recommendation is supported by illustrative prototypes, design suggestions and considerations, and acknowledgements of potential challenges.

Design Excellence

There were several elements that required precision planning and high-quality execution.

Workshops
Each workshop required dozens of stakeholders from a range of backgrounds to immerse themselves in the problem, ideate solutions, and then propose solutions in the form of UX prototypes and design principles. This required the creation of clear and impactful 'user personas', 'problem statements', as well as a series of 'fictional apps' – apps that borrowed functionality rom existing digital products, but weren't specific to an in-market product (for example: we created Picus, a photosharing app, similar to Instagram or Snapchat). On top of this was the workshop design, coordination and facilitation, as well as designing a functional mode of collaboration that spanned time-zones and the technical requirements of online collaboration tools.

Prototypes
The challenges of online gender based violence are mediated through the digital user experience, and so therefore possible solutions also needed to be expressed through tangible, realistic, digital prototypes. We needed to speak beyond just principles; we needed the language of digital product design. The Craig Walker team built on the low-resolution sketch prototypes that emerged from the workshops, developing them into high-resolution digital prototypes that conveyed the solution intent in a tangible way, to an audience that required specific, actionable examples of solutions.

Report and Microsite
The prototypes and recommendations were compiled into a comprehensive report. The report details the workshop approach and outlines detailed recommendations and suggestions for technology companies centered on two key areas: curation and reporting. The recommendations aim to give women more choice over what they see online, when they see it and how they see it, and to help women better manage and track their reports of abuse. A companion microsite was created to showcase the contents of report to a wider audience: https://ogbv.webfoundation.org/

Design Innovation

The project sought to highlight not only the key challenges facing women online, but to shine a pathway toward solutions, through product design recommendations and UX prototypes.

The specific problems were drawn from in-depth research, and were presented from a user-centric perspective. They included such topics as:

* People are finding and sending me abusive messages on multiple platforms. It’s overwhelming and I need a way to protect/defend myself.
* I am under siege by a growing online mob. I need a way to protect myself and stop it, but I don’t know how.
* I feel frustrated and helpless because I don’t know if reporting it will make any difference. I don’t even know if anyone will think it’s abuse!

The collaboration model to solve these challenges was truly remarkable. Coordinating across 13 timezones, the workshops brought together 120+ people in a broad coalition of co-design, with representatives from tech companies, civil society, intergovernmental organisations, politicians, foundations, journalists and academics.

Drawn from this diverse set of participants, the innovations in product design recommendations and UX prototypes were able to solve for problems that sit beyond the typical scope of digital product development. The aim was to encourage the makers of digital products to consider online gender based violence from the very start of the design cycle, not as an afterthought.

The scope of the stakeholders involved, as well the specificity and tangibility of the principles and prototypes, were instrumental in creating the momentum that led to the recommendations being immediately endorsed by the world's largest tech companies.

Design Impact

The ideas and solutions evidenced in the prototypes helped inform the recommendations that underpinned the public pledge by the world’s four largest tech companies, Google, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok at the UN Generation Equality Forum in July 2021.

Some of the steps that the companies agreed to implement, as a direct result of the report:

Build better ways for women to curate their safety online by:
- Offering more granular settings (e.g. who can see, share, comment or reply to posts)
- Using more simple and accessible language throughout the user experience
- Providing easy navigation and access to safety tools
- Reducing the burden on women by proactively reducing the amount of abuse they see

Implement improvements to reporting systems by:
- Offering users the ability to track and manage their reports
- Enabling greater capacity to address context and/or language
- Providing more policy and product guidance when reporting abuse
- Establish additional ways for women to access help and support during the reporting process

This commitment by companies with a combined total user base of over 4 billion people represents a significant step in addressing gender-based violence online. The companies will also ensure that solutions are addressed within a set and clear time frame and will regularly publish and share meaningful data and insights on their progress in implementing these commitments.

That the Melbourne studio of Craig Walker played a driving role in this truly world-wide initiative is testament to the high standard that Victorian-based design is held on the global stage.

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