The International News Safety Institute (INSI), Facebook and Google have joined forces to launch a new project that will support journalist safety.
The media industry has been calling for years on tech companies to do more to crack down on targeted harassment of journalists.
According to a press release, through 2020, the over 40 news organisations that make up INSI will engage with technology companies in a series of strategic meetings to address this issue and its impact on the news media industry. The project’s goal is to develop joint, practical, real-world solutions to address online abuse against journalists.
Maria Ressa, CEO and executive editor of Phillippine news website Rappler, was among the most vocal journalists who were asking the tech platforms to make more efforts for journalist safety. It was on social networks like Facebook and Twitter that Ressa and her team were the subjects of threats of sexual and gender violence, especially after President Duterte publicly called Rappler 'fake news' two years ago.
"I was very naive," Ressa said at the International Journalism Festival in April this year, adding that she underestimated how systematic the abuse was and how widely the social media had been weaponised against journalists.
"I was ashamed of getting attacked even if I knew it was wrong. Speaking out has been liberating.
"We can’t solve this problem on our own. Tech companies have to step in but they are keeping silent.
"Regulation alone can’t solve online harassment of journalists. Unless tech platforms come on board, media and human rights organisations are powerless," she said then.
Jesper Doub, director of news partnerships, EMEA, Facebook, told Journalism.co.uk: “We take journalists’ safety very seriously at Facebook and are proud to work with INSI and Google to identify workable and scalable solutions for journalists and newsrooms to protect them from online harassment.”
Matt Cooke, head of partnerships and training, Google News Lab, added in the press release: "Given the importance of journalism to open societies everywhere, we want to ensure that news publishers and individual journalists are equipped with the tools they need to be successful and safe while doing their work.”
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