Tech Industry and Researchers come together to tackle online child sexual exploitation and abuse

Promoting action from research

2024 Collaboration Announcement

We’re excited to announce that Safe Online and Tech Coalition’s partnership is entering its 4th year! With a generous USD $500,000 from the Tech Coalition, we’re set to enhance the impact of 13 research projects that play a crucial role in developing resources and applications for the tech industry. This effort is part of our ongoing commitment to combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse. 

Safe Online’s collaboration with the Tech Coalition addresses a crucial gap in the online child safety ecosystem for research funding that is aligned with industry trends, policymaking, and practical applications. Over the next year Safe Online will aim to maximize the impact of the current investments and build on this pivotal  partnership with the Tech Coalition.

The main aim of the Tech Coalition Safe Online Research Fund is to use the research to impact tech industry practices and steer technological developments. We do this not only through our research but also by organizing strategic events and engagements, to provide space and platform for the tech industry and researchers to share insights from the research projects. These events are key to translating these insights into products and practices that can significantly enhance the protection of children online. See an example of a recent convening below. 

Why we came together – 2023 Research Fund Convening

More than 45 participants, a combination of researchers supported by the Tech Coalition Safe Online Research Fund and tech professionals, came together in San Francisco to discuss emerging findings from research and actions that the tech industry can take to protect children online. 

What we covered

The day started with a public panel to share insights about this unique initiative and hear from collaborators who have made this work possible. Made up of industry members, independent experts and researchers, the panel was united in its call for more cross-sectoral collaboration, the need for greater inclusion of underrepresented geographies and groups, and the real impacts that the research projects from this fund are already having.

Marija Manojlovic, Executive Director, Safe Online made the exciting announcement that the Tech Coalition Safe Online Research Fund is granting 4 awards to further accelerate the work of organisations from the first cohort of grantees. The additional funds are for a duration of 12 months and will support projects to extend research to applications such as piloting solutions, technical collaboration and innovation efforts.  Read more here

We then dove straight into the research findings with a lightning round of presentations followed by a marketplace that gave tech professionals the chance to talk to researchers and understand what the findings mean for them. 

In the afternoon we took a deep dive into the research themes with small groups unpacking the opportunities and challenges around grooming, user reporting, prevention and wellness and deterrence and offender behavior. We ended the day focusing on action – linking up researchers with tech professionals working in operations, policy and product to discuss how to continue to strengthen the links across sectors to better protect children online.

How the day went

Overwhelmingly, participants were excited about the new and strengthened connections with other experts working on the issue –both within the research and tech communities and across both sectors.

“Meeting the other researchers and hearing about their work was perhaps the most useful because it made me feel like part of a movement for change - and we can all do with feeling a bit of unity in this field”
- Amanda Third, Young & Resilient Research Centre, University of Western Australia
“Valuable connections were made for professional networking and information sharing - we solved mutual problems together!”
- Tech industry participant feedback from post-workshop survey

The research projects range from linguistic analysis that can track patterns of grooming, to understanding more about perpetrator behaviors, to increased evidence around parents’ awareness of online abuse. The Research Fund has a focus on promoting action, making it even more valuable to bring researchers together with tech professionals. 

“I found it practical and action-oriented. I think there was a very fluid dialogue where we managed to put everyone's needs and work into perspective”
- Lina María Saldarriaga, Universidad de los Andes

There was a high level of consensus on the day about ensuring that research in this area is practical, actionable and is fast paced enough to make a change in the tech industry.

“Researchers could reflect on methods and think about the minimum viable product – a gold standard works in a vacuum but not real-world contexts. What matters is what’s making a difference.”
- Group discussion on policy

There is a lot of enthusiasm and energy to continue collaboration through a community of practice and individual connections that were made on the day. 

Overall, we received incredible feedback from the attendees at the convening. Both research grantees and tech industry participants appreciated the chance to learn, exchange ideas, and have open and honest discussions.  Participants highlighted the need for more such events bringing together researchers and tech partners to share learning, and to receive tailored research insights at regular intervals in order to  grow and strengthen this unique new community of practice.

We want to build on the enthusiasm from the day and keep the momentum going. As a next step, the TC Safe Online Research Fund will keep working to set up effective ways to share findings from research, increase researchers’ knowledge of how different platforms work, promote collaboration and most importantly action.

The Tech Coalition Safe Online Research Fund is investing in knowledge and research to end online child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA). The Tech Coalition and Safe Online joined hands in 2020 to collectively work to support knowledge and research towards ending online harm. Going into its 4th year, the Fund is continuing its focus on innovative research that produces actionable insights to impact product and policy development, with a priority given to research that can help inform the technology industry’s approach to combating online child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Image: © UNICEF:UN355768

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Our purpose in detail

We are here to ensure every child and young person grows in to the digital world feeling safe, and is protected from harm.

We support, champion, and invest in innovative partners from the public, private, and third sectors working towards the same objective.

We believe in equipping guardians and young people with the skills to understand and see danger themselves once accessing digital experiences without supervision.

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