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Combatting Online Toxicity: Do Big Talks with Melissa Ryan

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How do you know what to believe online? The answer isn’t as simple as you think, nor can it be reduced to buzzwords and simple solutions. It isn’t just about truth vs. lies; it’s about collectively reminding each other how our online environment affects the most vulnerable among us.

I sat down with Melissa Ryan, the CEO of CARD Strategies, which works with organizations to mitigate threats of far-right extremism and online harms. She is also the editor of the free Ctrl-Alt-Right-Delete newsletter.

In this talk, we explore:

  • Why not to use the word “disinformation” (“online toxicity” is better)
  • Why nonprofits need to be prepared to combat online toxicity (starting with basic threat assessment and a – rapid response protocol)
  • What to learn from bad actors like Project Veritas
  • Why we need to view these events through the lens of the culture wars
  • Why you need to download two-factor authentication now (we mean it, right now)

One of our big takeaways from our chat with Melissa was that these threats aren’t exclusive to political organizations and candidates. Whether you’re a small nonprofit, a pizza parlor (remember #Pizzagate?) or a butterfly sanctuary (yes, real example), you are vulnerable to being misrepresented and having your narrative overtaken online. The good news: you can fight back.

P.S. Only have a couple of minutes? Be sure to check out the 12:11 mark, where Melissa discusses the basics that every organization needs to think about when conducting a threat assessment.

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