Solidground.sg: A new resource for those facing online harassment or abuse in Singapore
Catherine Chang and Holly Apsley
In March 2021, the Singapore government announced a new Singapore Together Alliance for Action that seeks to brainstorm solutions for tackling online harms targeted at women and girls. This reflects growing mainstream awareness of the prevalence and severity of online harassment and abuse in Singapore, from predatory Instagram accounts to image-based sexual abuse.
We have been studying abusive online behaviours since 2019 as part of the Digital Societies research project at the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities. As part of our fieldwork, we spent six months in 2020 interviewing individuals who have faced abusive online behaviours in order to understand their experiences.
During these interviews, individuals frequently spoke about the challenges they faced when looking for information and support. This highlighted the need to improve access to resources for people experiencing online harassment and abuse in Singapore.
To address this, we created Solid Ground, a resource site providing information for people facing online harassment or abuse to empower them to take action. This was a passion project that we pursued as a way of applying our research to build something useful for the wider community. We were supported in this endeavour by the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) Singapore and the National Youth Council Young Changemakers’ Grant.
Why “Solid Ground”?
What stood out from our interviews was how overwhelming and confusing experiences of online harassment and abuse tend to be. All at once, our interviewees had to make sense of what happened while simultaneously figuring out how they should gather evidence, make reports to platforms and the authorities, keep themselves safe, and manage their emotions.
These experiences can also be very isolating. Our interviewees felt a mixture of emotions – doubt, embarrassment, fear, shame, confusion, anger – that held them back from speaking to their friends or family. Even fewer reached out to support services. So it is important for individuals to be able to privately and conveniently find information that helps them make sense of what happened and what they can do.
Solid Ground meets this need. The name Solid Ground reflects our desire for the site to be a place where individuals facing online harassment and abuse can catch their breath, find their footing, and orientate themselves before taking their next steps.
Structured around Guides
Solid Ground aims to be both comprehensive and concise, so that users are able to quickly see what actions they can take; and easily find the information they need to take their desired action. To achieve this, we structured the site around guides for nine common online experiences.
In each guide, the user is presented with all the actions they can take for that situation. These range from actions they can quickly do on their own, like adjusting privacy settings, to actions that will take more time, like applying for a protection order.
We also organised the guides so that the user can differentiate between actions that are more urgent – like preserving evidence – and actions that they can do later. Buttons in the guides then direct users to step-by-step instructions on taking each action.
The final component of the site is the Find Support directory, designed to help individuals connect with services in Singapore that can meet their needs, from legal to mental health support.
We hope that Solid Ground will be a useful resource for people experiencing online harassment or abuse in Singapore and that it can spur further conversations and initiatives to tackle these issues.
If you would like to share your thoughts on the site, contribute information that can help improve our guides, or partner with us in some capacity, we would love to hear from you! Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.