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About Weaponized Social

The existing harms of social scripts we ran while in smaller, geographically-constrained groups are being amplified due to network effect. Tiny unchecked errors, scaled, become large harms as people find ways to exploit them, in life just as in software. - Meredith

Weaponized Social is a series of events, discussion, action, and surrounding community to examine the network effects of human interaction, to encourage the healthy and to deweaponize the powerful tools at our fingertips. We welcome you to join us at an event, on our mailing list, or to hold space as well.

About Aspiration

Weaponized Social is a program area of Aspiration. Aspiration helps nonprofits and foundations use software tools more effectively and sustainably. We serve as ally, coach, strategist, mentor and facilitator to those trying to make more impactful use of information technology in their social change efforts.

Aspiration has taken on Weaponized Social as an extension of our commitment to solidarity and equality as mediated by technology. Our work to support more people in their existing efforts by making use of technology brings historically marginalized populations into online space. And as we welcome new people into new spaces, we have not only an opportunity, but also an obligation, to do so with more intent and understanding than we have in the past.

How to get involved

  • Join the conversation via the mailing list.
  • Join at an event by either joining the mailing list, or emailing your interest to us.
  • Assisting projects listed here in a variety of ways, as linked to from or below the project.
  • Contributing to this wiki, which we wholehartedly hope you will do!
ALERT: Due to ongoing spam problems, we have had to disable anonymous editing and self-service account creation. 
We ABSOLUTELY welcome contributions to this wiki; please contact to request an account. 
We apologize for the hassle!

How to use this wiki

In this wiki, you'll find links to external resources, events and their associated notes, and project specs; all structured within the disaster cycle framework. All the work and ideas here are open, and done in good faith that healthy action will be carried forward. We hope the collective knowledge accrued here will be useful in building healthy (including dissent) communities online and off. That might be by creating (and enforcing) a Code of Conduct for your community, it might be by installing a plugin to your website, or it might be by going through a self-reflection checklist if you're a part of an escalating exchange.

The disaster cycle

Rather than thinking of online attacks, actions, etc as having value based on if we agree or disagree with any given side, let's look at it as a disaster cycle. In the same way which this assumes issues of infrastructure, process, and forethought associated with the harms which turn a "natural event" into a "natural disaster," so too can we here explore the mechanisms. The disaster cycle consists of four components: preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation. Preparedness includes risk analysis (what could go wrong, to what, by what means) and associated steps based on available resources and capacity in order to brace one's self and community of an oncoming harm. Response is comprised of the actions to deal with the immediate issues associated with the extreme event as it happens, or soon after, and is subsequently easier based on steps taken during the preparedness stage. Recovery is focused on reestablishing or even bettering what life was like before the extreme event. Finally, mitigation is both throughout and outside this cycle, and is focused on the designand implementation of the systems themselves -- how can more people be helped faster in any part of the cycle? How can we prevent people from falling through gaps? This is the section of the cycle that focuses on the different between a "natural event" and a "natural disaster," and aims towards the prior. We've also added in being the extreme event, as this is an important aspect of these self-imposed futures.

Interested in knowing more?
Here's a short form overview of the reasoning behind each component in disaster response.


  • 2015 June Berkman Center : the International Workshop for Misogyny and the Internet hosted by Berkman Center was facilitated by Aspiration, but is not a Weaponized Social event. It is listed here for posterity purposes. The 50+ attendees sourced lessons from history; explored a global perspective; detailed the role of humor, of law, and of anonymity; and considered queering data.
  • 2015 May San Francisco : with a focus on the mitigation and re-examination of systems and escalations themselves, this group worked on piecing out aspects of social interaction so as to better intervene, on expressed norms, and on redirecting outrage energy into longer-term interventions.
  • 2015 April Nairobi : our first foray into non-Western-centric viewpoints, the Nairobi group had direct experience with online instigation leading to offline harms. We considered scaffolding for engagement, automation of response, and safe versus free spaces.
  • 2015 March San Francisco (meetup) : a laid-back gathering of interested parties.
  • 2015 February New York City : network theory, safe space guidelines, self reflection guidelines, and a surprisingly populated Venn Diagram overlap between Nonviolent Communication and traditional trolling.
  • 2015 January Berkman Center : the dry run of the topic, the most basic roles and components for a healthy community were discussed as being catalysts, difference, awareness, and norms.

Other resources

  • Online harassment lit review : focused on an academic perspective, covering understanding online harassment, trolls and trolling culture, flagging and reporting systems, volunteer moderators, automated detection and prediction of social behavior online, and speech and the law.
  • This is Phil Fish : reviews the newness of the way we think of fame in online space, and how we respond to that.