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IPI’s database on online abuse against journalists

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 The International Press Institute (IPI) today launched an online database aimed at recording harassment, abuse, threats, hacking and other web-based methods of intimidating independent media into silence.

Intended as a resource for journalists, researchers and media freedom advocates, the database currently contains 766 verified instances of online abuse against journalists collected in two pilot countries, Turkey and Austria. It will be updated on a regular basis to reflect ongoing data collection and will be expanded to cover additional countries.

The database forms part of IPI’s Ontheline programme, initiated in 2015 in order to combat growing online attacks on the media. During the programme’s initial phase, IPI researchers conducted more than 50 in-depth interviews with journalists targeted by online mobs as well as with experts in cyber security, social network analysis, psychology and other fields. In January 2016, IPI began systematically monitoring social media platforms in Turkey to record instances of attacks on journalists.

The data collection follows a standard methodology to better study this emerging threat to independent journalism.

Instances of online abuse are classified according to three broad categories: violent threats, abusive behaviour and technical interference. In a second step, each attack is analysed using nearly 20 variables, ranging from the type of victim (journalist, news website, media corporation) to the background issue that appears to have prompted the attack (religion, nationalism, politics, education, etc.).