Social Impact Research

Investigating ways by which Indian users of digital products and services might be supported to feel safer online

Client: Confidential
Timeline: 8 weeks
Sample Size: 30
Locations: Indian Metro’s and Tier 1 Cities

A multinational tech company sought to delve deeper into the experiences of individuals who had encountered various forms of online abuse. The client wished to focus on the most vulnerable users, in two emerging markets – India and Brazil.

Research in India was spearheaded by Anagram Research. Study participants were selected to be representative of minority or marginalized gender, sexuality, caste or religious cohorts.

Commissioned during the COVID pandemic, the study was meticulously crafted. It was important to navigate the challenges of social distancing, while fostering the rapport needed for participants to feel comfortable discussing and sharing their experiences about this sensitive topic.

Unrestricted by costs or logistical challenges linked to participant location, we were able to widen our net to all Indian metros and Tier 1 cities, and focus on finding participants with backgrounds and experiences most significant to our research objectives.

Commencing with a 5-day diary study, provided nuanced and longitudinal insights into participants experiences with online abuse. Additionally, this initial interaction helped ‘prime’ participants, by easing them into the experience of sharing their encounters with online abuse, before the more intense in-depth interviews.

Participants were given the option to disable cameras during the interviews which were conducted remotely. While most participants chose to keep their cameras on, remote interactions and having the option to speak without being seen, fostered an environment where individuals felt comfortable sharing their experiences candidly, in ways they might not have otherwise.

Unexpectedly, several participants also articulated how participating in the research study made them feel valued and supported. Having a forum to share their experiences and opinions helped participants to externalize bottled up experiences and emotions, reduce feelings of self-hatred or blame and feel less alone.

The outcome of this research was a comprehensive insights presentation.

In addition to the original research objective to gain a deeper understanding about online abuse experiences, the report included insights into abuse catalysts, perpetrators of abuse and factors that motivate abusive behavior.

The report culminated with research-based guidelines to assist the client to better support users of its different products and services.

The guidelines could potentially be used to incorporate user-identified concepts into existing definitions and responses to digital abuse, ensure culturally sensitive response mechanisms, and integrate socio-cultural and linguistic considerations into products and services designed to aid the victims and witnesses of digital abuse.