Making Online Spaces Safer [Tactical Activity]

The goal of this activity is to go through the privacy options for accounts and groups of the agreed-upon (i.e. commonly used in the group) social media sites. If you want to get hands-on with online services, this activity provides guidance for analyzing the settings, policies, and norms of online spaces.

About this learning activity


The goal of this activity is to go through the privacy options for accounts and groups of the agreed-upon (i.e. commonly used in the group) social media sites. For groups who have gone through the exercise Develop Your Internet Dream Place, this is an activity to make the dream places real, including addressing challenges of current design and policy of online spaces being at odds with the dream space visions. For groups who already have online spaces and want to alter them to make them feel more safe, you can also use this activity.

If you want to get hands-on with online services, this activity provides guidance for analysing the settings, policies and norms of online spaces. It is not a step-by-step guide to adjusting settings, as they change too frequently.

Learning objectives this activity responds to

Who is this activity for?

This activity can be used with participants with different levels of experience with both online spaces and creating safe spaces. Participants will be asked to explore and set privacy settings in the tools they are using.

Time required

This activity will require about 3 hours.

Resources needed for this activity

Continue to this activity's next page (Mechanics (1) & (2))


Mechanics (1) & (2)



(1) Map your space

Developing new spaces: If you have done Develop Your Internet Dream Place, you can use the work from that exercise as your map.

Redesigning existing spaces: If your group would rather redesign an existing online space, identify a space that the group already participates in or ask the participants to form groups based on spaces they participate in and facilitate the group(s) to answer the questions from Develop Your Internet Dream Place, about these existing spaces:

Have the groups draw out this space as creatively as possible, and get them to prepare a creative presentation for the rest of the group.

(2) Choosing spaces: Spaces that work and assessing safety

If you have done Input + Activity: Online Safety "Rules", you may have already had a conversation about choosing spaces and assessing risks of online communications.

Choosing spaces for functionality

How do you choose platforms and assess risks to yourselves on those platforms? Choose spaces that help us reach our communication goals and try to participate in these spaces in ways that do not expose us to risks we do not wish to take.

Look at the map you have made. Can you identify a platform already that will allow you to create the space you have mapped? Which of the components of your space will be easy to create? Which will be difficult? Are there alternative spaces where pieces will be easier or harder?

Choosing spaces strategically

Does the space you chose match your strategy? Is this a good space for: organising, mobilising, for announcements/influencing discourse?

Facilitator: Introduce how these different activities bring with them different levels of risk.

Suggested questions to ask

This discussion leads into the next discussion section looking at risks people are most concerned with.

Note to facilitator: This section may be very quick, with everyone agreeing that they need to be on a single platform right now, for instance, Facebook. You may, however, get to talk about a variety of tools and platforms.

Discussion OR Input: Assessing dimensions of safety and the internet: What are the current issues?

Ask the group: What safety risks are you concerned about in online spaces? Facilitate this discussion to include concerns about actions that individuals can take in these spaces as well as actions taken by the software companies who own the spaces.

If you have already done Input + Activity: Online Safety "Rules", you may reference that discussion and abbreviate this section.

Otherwise, facilitate discussion about safety risks in online spaces. Draw from the experiences of the participants but also prepare some examples of stories where privacy was breached through online spaces and that impact that had on individuals.

Discussion: Ask participants what safety concerns they have in online spaces. Are there any specific incidents or risks people are concerned about and want to address in their Dream Space or redesigned space?

Input: We suggest familiarising yourself with 2-3 case studies and sharing them here. To share these with the least amount of time, present them as a lecture. If you have more time, or want to facilitate deeper conversation and engagement with the issues, find some media like articles, short videos, interviews, regarding a case and share them with the group. Ask group members to discuss them together in pairs or small groups.

Facilitator: ask participants to consider why the platforms we are on are not safer by design.

Continue to this activity's next page (Mechanics (3) & Additional resources)


Mechanics (3) & Additional resources



(3) Make a plan: Address the risks of the spaces that you are using

Using the Dream Spaces or Redesigned Spaces as examples, have the participants make plans for implementing this space online.

This would be most useful if they have active spaces they want to secure and safeguard.

Issues to consider here:

Consideration Platform or Space How will you address this
Who can see what Twitter (this is an example) Review my privacy settings; consider content that I post, respond to, like, and the default privacy settings on different types of content; reduce the number people I'm linked to; prohibit tagging
Do you know everyone you're linked to   review my connections; remove connections to people I do not know;
Do you want to use your real name; anonymity and how hard it is   use a pseudonym; prevent others from naming you with your real name
Do you want to share your location   No, I do not want to automatically share my location; turn off location services; limit photo posts showing my location


Consideration Platform or Space How will you address this
Ensuring that I am logging out f-book do not save password in browser; review setting on f-book for automatic logout
2-factor on accounts and devices   set up 2-factor to be more certain that only I am logging in
Shared accounts   review who has access to shared accounts; review password policies on these accounts


Consideration Platform or Space How will you address this
Device-level safety Twitter or any app do not automatically log in to any apps or through browsers
Do I want notifications to show on my devices   turn off audio and visual notifications

Group Administration

If you are working with a group to implement a space online, use the following table of questions and work through the answers, finding the appropriate settings on the platform you are using to implement the group's preferences.

Example design/implementation table:

Well-being Note: Bringing up risk and technology concepts might cause participants stress. Be aware of this. Pause for a breathing exercise. Or allow participants to take a walk around the venue to decompress when they need to.

Additional resources

Go back to this activity's main module (Creating Safe Online Spaces)