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Home > Resources > PEN America Launches the Online Abuse Defense Manual in French

PEN America Launches the Online Abuse Defense Manual in French

Saturday 16 October 2021, by siawi3


PEN America Launches the Online Abuse Defense Manual in French

Guide is a first-of-its king resource to support Francophone journalists and writers facing escalating online harassment


October 11, 2021

PEN America, in partnership with Code for Africa and PesaCheck, will officially launch the Online Abuse Defense Manual in French on Monday, October 11, 2021 at the African Investigative Journalism Conference (AIJC) in Dakar.
Online abuse poses a severe threat to freedom of expression and is deliberately deployed to intimidate, discredit and silence journalists and activists, especially women.
The Manual focuses on online abuse faced by journalists and writers based in francophone countries, including West Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean.
The Manual provides comprehensive strategies and resources for online abuse defense, including preparation, response, and allyship.
The Manual was translated and adapted for journalists in partnership with Code for Africa, the continent’s largest civic technology and data journalism initiative, and PesaCheck, CfA’s fact-checking initiative that works in more than 12 countries and publishes in four languages.

(Dakar/New York) — The literary and free expression group PEN America, in partnership with Code for Africa (CfA) and PesaCheck, today launched the Manuel de défense contre le cyberharcèlement, a French-language Manual to support francophone journalists and writers who are facing an unprecedented wave of online abuse. The Manual offers practical tools and strategies to defend against such abuse, which PEN America has long argued poses a profound threat to free expression and the freedom to write.

The Manual was researched and written in collaboration with journalists from PesaCheck, a fact-checking initiative of CfA that works in more than 12 countries and publishes in four languages, and digital safety experts based in West Africa and Europe. The guidance is specifically designed for francophone content creators in West Africa and across the continent, as well as Europe, North America, and the Caribbean, including those facing abuse from governments, organized crime, special interest groups, and troll mobs.

“Online abuse is a deliberate attempt to stifle press freedom and creative expression. As an organization of and for writers, PEN America is committed to working with our partners in West Africa, Europe, and around the world to ensure that writers, journalists, artists, and human rights defenders are empowered to defend themselves and continue making their voices heard,” said Viktorya Vilk, program director for digital safety and free expression at PEN America.

For years, online abuse was dismissed as less harmful than physical violence. But amid a surge in virtual hatred, there is growing recognition that it has a devastating impact on livelihoods, mental health, and freedom of expression and can lead directly to offline violence. The situation is particularly dire for women writers – 73% of women journalists have experienced online abuse, according to global study from UNESCO and ICFJ.

“The voice of women online is resounding louder than ever, it is an act of disruption, but online gender abuse remains a major safety concern. Creators and journalists need the internet to be a safe place for them. Having tools like those offered in PEN America’s unique French-language Manual will help us respond to digital attacks and feel collectively supported,” said Rose Lukalo, Chief Copy Editor at PesaCheck.

The French-language Manual complements the English-language guide, published in 2018, which has since formed the foundation of PEN America’s global advocacy against online harassment. The French-language edition is a second salvo in broadening PEN America’s unique expertise to a more global, multilingual audience after the launch of a Spanish-language edition earlier this year.

“As journalists, fact-checkers, and writers face increased online abuse that seeks to intimidate them and hinder their work, Code for Africa is proud to have joined forces with PEN America to create a resource that provides practical guidance translated and adapted specifically for the region. It also enables us to respond as a community and make sure all voices are heard,” said Amanda Strydom, senior programme manager for CivicSignal and engagement at Code for Africa.

The Manual offers comprehensive guidance and resources on doxing, impersonation, and other abusive tactics. While the content is geared toward writers and journalists, much of the advice and techniques are relevant to anyone facing or witnessing hostility online—especially women and those who identify as members of a marginalized group. It includes:

A glossary of abusive tactics
Self-defense strategies, including step-by-step guides to protect from hacking, impersonation, and doxing
Strategies for response, including leveraging existing tools on social media platforms, building support networks, and safely practicing counterspeech
Guidelines for allies who want to intervene safely when witnessing online abuse
Best practices for employers to improve institutional support for staff facing online abuse

The Online Abuse Defense Manual is freely available in French at

About PEN America: Founded in 1922, PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. For more information, see:

About PesaCheck: PesaCheck is an accredited member of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) and is Africa’s largest non-profit verification initiative with full-time fact-checking teams in 12 countries. Launched in 2016 to initially focus on verifying public finances and statistics quoted by public figures in East Africa, PesaCheck now also helps fact-check a wide range of development issues across the continent, track political promises by politicians, decipher budget and census data, and helps watchdog media and NGOs establish their own standalone fact-checking teams.

Code for Africa: Code for Africa (CfA) is the continent’s largest network of civic technology and data journalism labs, with teams in 21 countries. CfA builds digital democracy solutions that give citizens access to information that empowers them, including initiatives as diverse as the PesaCheck fact-checking initiative, and the research and analysis programme Civic Signal. CfA also manages the African Network of Centres for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR), which offers the best newsrooms the top forensic data tools, digital security and whistleblower encryption.



Elodie Vialle, Consultant Digital Safety and Free Expression, PEN America : evialle

Amanda Strydom, Senior programme manager for CivicSignal and engagement at Code for Africa, amanda

Stephen Fee, Senior Director, Communications and Marketing, PEN America: sfee