“Online Harassment and the Threat to Democracy”

March 24, 2020

  • 2020 |
  • Eisendrath Symposium |
  • Wallace House Presents |

“Online Harassment and the Threat to Democracy”
The Eisendrath Symposium with journalists Elodie Vialle and Rana Ayyub and moderator Roya Ensafi

March 24, 2020 | 4:30 p.m.

Rackham Amphitheatre
915 E Washington St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Free and open to the public.
Event will be live-streamed»
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About the Event

Online trolls are targeting journalists with such frequency and intensity that 90 percent of reporters say online harassment has become their biggest safety concern, according to a study by the Committee to Protect Journalists. The perpetrators range from lone-wolf digital stalkers to synchronized armies of online mercenaries set in motion by political actors. They have turned social media platforms into battlefields filled with verbal weaponry meant to intimidate and silence journalists. The threats toward female journalists are particularly vicious and dangerous. A recent study by the International Women Media Foundation found that online harassment has prompted many women journalists to consider leaving the profession.

What can be done to track and counter the hate?

Wallace House Presents a conversation between Rana Ayyub, prominent and multi-awarded investigative journalist based in Mumbai and Elodie Vialle, a Knight-Wallace Fellow working on countering online harassment of journalists. The discussion will be moderated by Roya Ensafi, founder of Censored Planet and assistant professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan.


About the Speakers

Rana Ayyub is an award-winning investigative journalist based in Mumbai. A political writer and an important voice from South Asia, she is a Global Opinions contributor to the Washington Post. Her work has appeared in the The New York Times, Guardian and Foreign Policy among other publications. She has reported on religious violence, insurgency and extrajudicial killings by the state. She is author of the “Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover-Up,” an undercover investigation which exposes the complicity of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in state-sponsored killings. Time magazine this year listed her among ten global journalists facing the most urgent threats to their work, freedom and safety.

Elodie Vialle is a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, where she is studying methods and best practices for countering online attacks of female journalists. She was previously the Head of the Technology desk at Reporters without Borders. Her work focused on topics such as online censorship, surveillance, disinformation and the impact of artificial intelligence on freedom of information and internet governance. She has worked as an advisor for media outlets around the world, helping them to improve news coverage through the use of new technologies.

Moderator: Roya Ensafi is an assistant professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on security and privacy, with an emphasis on designing techniques and systems to protect users from adversarial networks. She founded and directs Censored Planet research lab at the University of Michigan that investigates different types of privacy and security violations on the internet.