Information and Risks: A Protection Approach to Information Ecosystems

Presentation at the Global Protection Forum Innovation Corner by Internews.

Information saves lives. Information can also put people at risks.

A man could film an attack on his neighborhood in the hope of justice, a youth community group could publicly share a social media post that provides the location of a shelter for women and children, a member of a minority group could enquire about safe roads to leave a contested area, a family might decide to remain in a disaster-prone area based on information received by a trusted source. All those interactions within an information ecosystem could have a positive impact on those individuals, helping them remain safe or supporting them to claim their rights. However, these interactions could also generate new protection risks, or exacerbate existing ones. Some information can be sensitive when shared and could lead to the man or the people filmed being targeted. If digital literacy is low, the youth group could inadvertently reveal the location of the shelter to perpetrators, putting the women and children living there at greater risk. Or by sharing unverified or out of date information, could encourage women to take refuge in an unsafe place. Members of a minority group may unknowingly reveal identifying information to a hostile party when discussing safe routes for movement. A family may choose to stay in the path of danger and ignore official emergency warnings based on information from a trusted, but ultimately unreliable, source. 

To address information-related protection risks, we need to understand what the threats are, who are the most vulnerable to those threats, and what capacities exist to reduce the likelihood of those threats. These Guidelines provide knowledge and tools to identify protection risks related to information, and, most importantly, to engage the community to identify solutions to mitigate those risks.

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