Humara MIL Kit for the Multiverse of Digital Fallacies 

This toolkit is a part of Digital Empowerment Foundation’s Media and Information Literacy (MIL) initiatives to enable people to interpret and make informed judgments as users of information and media, as well as to become skillful creators and producers of information and media messages in their own right. An understanding of MIL would also help communities that are getting online to have better understanding of misinformation, online trolling, stereotypes, prejudices.

Objectives and Learnings from the Toolkit

A toolkit on media information literacy with comprehensive modules on critical digital literacy and staying safe online, along with interactive elements like games, role-play opportunities, and a comic book with unique characters, can be a valuable resource for marginalized and vulnerable communities in several ways:

  1. Accessible Learning: Ensure that the toolkit is accessible to diverse audiences. This makes the information inclusive and accessible to a broader range of people.
  2. Empowerment: Such a toolkit empowers marginalized communities with essential digital literacy skills, enabling them to navigate the online world with confidence. This empowerment can help reduce their vulnerability to misinformation, online scams, cyberbullying, and other online threats.
  3. Critical Thinking: The comprehensive modules on critical digital literacy encourage individuals to think critically about the information they encounter online. They can learn how to verify sources, detect biases, and evaluate the credibility of information, which is crucial for making informed decisions.
  4. Online Safety: Staying safe online is paramount, especially for vulnerable populations. The toolkit can provide practical guidance on setting strong passwords, recognizing phishing attempts, and protecting personal information. It can also teach them how to report online harassment or abuse.
  5. Engagement through Gamification: Interactive games and role-play activities can make learning more engaging and enjoyable. This approach is particularly effective for marginalized communities who may find traditional educational methods less appealing or intimidating.
  6. Storytelling and Representation: The comic book with unique characters can facilitate storytelling and story sharing, allowing community members to share their experiences and perspectives. Representation in media is essential, and having relatable characters can help build a sense of belonging and empowerment.
  7. Community Building: The toolkit can be used in community workshops or training sessions, fostering a sense of solidarity and shared learning among community members. This can lead to the formation of support networks and a stronger community bond.

Talking Data to the Fourth Pillar: A collaborative effort at democratizing the data protection discourse in India.

In 2017, a landmark Supreme Court judgment pronounced privacy as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian constitution. It also recommended the Government to put in place a data protection regime that would balance individual interest and legitimate concerns of the state such as protecting national security, encouraging innovation, and distribution of social welfare benefits. This, along with the passing of General Data Protection Regulation, paved the way for Data Protection Bill 2018 and its revised versions of 2019 and 2021. However, the 2021 bill has been critiqued for the disproportionate exemptions it made to the Government agencies, and is yet to be ratified by the Parliament. As such, a regulatory vacuum exists in India despite multiple data breaches, with an increased collection of data by the Government agencies and advancements in technology that enable more granular data collection. It is in this context that the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF India) seeded the idea of organising a capacity-building and knowledge exchange program titled, “Talking data to the fourth pillar: A collaborative effort at democratizing the data protection discourse in India”. The programme will be implemented through a 5-day in-person residential workshop to be held in Asia Plateau, Panchgani, Maharashtra . Applicants who are employed/associated with digital media organisations (either full time or part-time), citizen journalists (bloggers, YouTubers, etc.) and freelance/independent journalists are eligible to apply. 

The programme is conceptualized with the aim of developing an understanding of the concepts of privacy, data protection and online safety, to facilitate and enable the participants to make informed choices while pursuing journalism. It also aims to build the capacities of journalists in understanding data protection legislations to pursue journalism in a safe and secure manner. Additionally, as journalists along with the human right defenders are one of the targeted categories of violation of information and communication privacy, this training would enable them to better defend themselves. To achieve the same, a thorough curriculum has been developed to train and create awareness in the following areas: 

• Understanding data privacy and protection from an intersectional feminist perspective 

• International and domestic legal landscape on data and privacy 

• Online security and safety 

• Challenges and opportunities in working towards online privacy and safety 

Due to the increased digitization across sectors, safeguarding privacy has become a challenge. The public at large is vulnerable to data extractive practices by private business, and social media that leads to targeted advertising intended at vulnerable communities, including that of consumer products and political propaganda. Data breaches also put vulnerable communities such as religious, gender and sexual minorities, and oppressed caste members at risk by loss of anonymity. The citizenry is also vulnerable due to the digital linkage of personally identifiable information and welfare delivery. For example, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has suffered multiple data breaches over years most of which, the Government has refused to acknowledge. Disturbingly, authoritarian Governments have used these opportunities to tighten surveillance over citizenry and pave the way for the digital economy, thereby harming the right to privacy and freedom of expression. Human right defenders and journalists have especially been at the receiving end of such malpractices in India. All of these illustrate the need for data protection legislation that protects the interests of the democratic state.  It is in this context that the workshop is conceptualized to meet the pertinent need for building a critical discourse around questions of data privacy, data protection and online safety, especially from an intersectional feminist perspective. In line with DEF’s several efforts in the past to ideate, build and disseminate critical knowledge on data rights for marginalized communities, online safety and security, the programme will work towards building consensus towards a more democratic data protection regime that uphold human rights and personal dignity of the Indian journalists.  

For more information, please mail us at

Digital Empowerment Foundation is collaborating with the Alan Turing Institute and the Global Partnership on AI (GPAI)to pilot the research project titled: Advancing Data Justice Research and Practice.

Project Synopsis

We are witnessing a ‘datafication’ of society, where massive amounts of data being collected and processed systemically have become normalised. This comes with its own set of new ethical issues and power dynamics that need to be analysed. Data justice is defined as “fairness in the way people are made visible, represented and treated as a result of their production of digital data.” Data justice research does exactly this. It is a broad research area that brings together social justice, technology, and the impacts of the data paradigm on communities.

Project Description

This project aims to fill a gap in data justice research and practice and provide resources that help policymakers, practitioners, and impacted communities gain a broader understanding of data governance. This includes considerations of equity and data justice informed by the affected communities, which encompasses questions of access to, and visibility and representation in, data used in the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI)/ Machine Learning (ML) systems. As part of the programme, a detailed questionnaire is prepared by the partner on data justice covering six pillars of justice: power, equity, access, identity, participation and knowledge. Questions covering these six pillars will be asked to policymakers, developers, and communities affected by AI/ML systems on their practice, use, and experience of AI/ML systems, specifically in consideration of realising the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Along with other pilot partner organisations from several countries, our engagements, research and insights will ground the current work in the area and inform future agendas.

Project Global Partners

The Global Partnership on AI (“GPAI”) is an international, multi-stakeholder initiative established with a mission to “support and guide the responsible adoption of AI that is grounded in human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation, economic growth, and societal benefit while seeking to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals”. GPAI is supported in its mission by four working groups currently comprised of leading international experts and 19 national governments.

The Alan Turing Institute is the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence. The Alan Turing Institute is the Consultancy Partner for this project, and research will be conducted by members of the Turing Institute’s Ethics Theme along with the Institute’s Theme Lead of AI and Justice and Human Rights and a Senior Research Fellow and Affiliated Lecturer at the Dept. Computer Science & Technology (Computer Laboratory), University of Cambridge.

Project Deliverables

DEF will identify and conduct structured interviews with the stakeholders of data justice, namely policymakers, developers and affected communities, asking them questions on Data Justice based on the guidelines provided by the institute. We will also conduct a workshop to engage with the stakeholders in detail. The transcripts of the interview, video documentation wherever possible, and a detailed report of both the workshop and interviews will be sent to the global partners and later made available on our website.

DEF Onus

Along with other pilot partner organisations from several countries, our engagements, research and insights will ground the current work in the area and inform future agendas.


Join the Collaboration:

The project will conclude in March 2021. Details about the latest outputs from the project will be updated here as we develop them. Stakeholders or the public can also contact us by email at to be part of the research on data justice, provide inputs or give suggestions.

For more information, please mail us at

Tracking Causalities of Escalation towards Dangerous Speech

The past couple of years have seen online vitriol and hate speech proliferating on social media platforms. In many cases this has translated to offline violence towards targeted communities via mob-violence and lynching. Augmented via the ecosystem of misinformation and disinformation along with the fact that speech acts and practices coalesce along communities of supporters, this has even affected national election outcomes. The research is rooted in this context of increased incidences of hateful speech and offline violence. It aims to develop a situated understanding of the dynamic online ecosystem in which such escalation takes place. Given the compound information ecosystem of social media platforms, it aims to understand both the tactics and causality of incitement to violence online. This research aims to move beyond the study of prevalence of online hate speech towards understanding the factors underlying the prevalence or proliferation of speech acts and practices. This research has been funded by Facebook through a global call for proposals studying hate speech and offline violence and was a part of the cohort selected from among 184 applications from 34 countries.

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Internet Rights

Protecting freedom of information, expression and association on the internet in India since 2011

As part of a global initiative of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), DEF initiated ‘Internet Rights’ in 2011 to advocate ‘Internet access for all’ at the national level.

As its first step of the project, DEF & APC jointly submitted their first UPR (Universal Periodic Review) in 2011 focusing on Internet rights and making Internet an effective tool to access right to information in India. A second report is now under preparation.

In 2014, DEF, being a country partner, along with APC initiated a project titled, IMPACT (‘Networking for freedom online and offline: protecting freedom of information, expression and association on the Internet in India, Malaysia and Pakistan’ in India). The project aims to build awareness among different stakeholders of the enabling role of in freedoms in strengthening human rights and democracy. The project also monitors and documents Internet human rights defenders tools and support to respond to threats and violations.

The project supports the participation of national rights defenders and civil society advocates in regional, national and global multi-stakeholder Internet governance bodies. Through awareness-raising and capacity-building, the project will reach out to human rights defenders – activists, national rights institutes, media rights advocates, judiciary, legal sector, women’s groups – and civil society in general, and provide them with knowledge, tools and networks so that violations can be monitored, reported and addressed.

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  • 200+ Internet-related human rights violations documented
  • 250+ human rights defenders trained in Internet Rights Human Rights
  • 3 country research reports published on the State of Internet Freedom in India
  • 5 issue papers published around topics of Freedom of Expression and Cyberspace
  • 150+ data points published in leading financial daily called Mint

For more information, please mail us at

Digital Citizen Summit

Creating a platform for dialogue around issues of Internet governance, human rights online and future of the Internet since 2016

Digital Citizen Summit aims to provide a multi stakeholder platform to discuss issues relating to Internet governance, human rights online and the future of the Internet. Four main thematic areas drive the discussions – Access, Freedom of Expression, Privacy, and Digital Literacy & Empowerment. Policy makers, civil society organisations, private players, academics, government representatives and users are invited to discuss the myriad issues facing the digital world at this annual summit.

Digital Citizen Summit seeks to become the South Asia equivalent to other forums like Internet Governance Forum and APRIGF. Care has been taken that minorities – whether that be gender, sexual, ethnic or people with disabilities are represented on panels and the issues they face are brought to the fore. So far, the summit has seen representations from eight countries —Bangladesh, Philippines, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Argentina, and South Africa.

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  • 8 countries—Bangladesh, Philippines, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Argentina, and South Africa—have been represented at the summit
  • 60+ speakers and panelists have shared their ideas with South Asia’s digital citizens
  • 30+ women speakers at the summit have ensured gender equity in the discourse about Internet governance
  • 250+ persons have participated in the summit
  • 30+women speakers at the summit have ensured gender equity in the discourse about Internet governance
  • 20 relevant issues across four thematic areas — Access, Freedom of Expression, Privacy, and Digital Literacy & Empowerment — have been discussed

For more information, please mail us at

Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) in partnership with Facebook hosted a series of brown bag sessions and round table discussions between September 2021 and November 2021 with the participation of representatives from business, government, civil society and academia. The discussions aimed to develop concrete recommendations on the future of economic recovery and resilience in India in the context of the pandemic. The discussions were held focusing on four sections of rural entrepreneurship: agriculture, handicrafts, tourism and retail.

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Brown Bag Session 1
Strategic Recommendation


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Brown Bag Session 2
Strategic Recommendation

Digital Citizen, Rural Consumer and Ease of Governance

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Roundtable 1
Strategic Recommendation
Accelerating digital inclusion for the unconnected

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Roundtable 2
Strategic Recommendation
Emerging Dimensions of Rural Women Entrepreneurship

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Roundtable 3
Strategic Recommendation
Digital Financial Inclusion in Rural Economy

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Mobile for Social & Behavioural Change

Effective usage of mobile as a social and behavioural change-maker since 2013

The rapid growth of mobiles and the Internet have changed the way in which communication and development take place. It is strongly perceived that the subject of mobile as a tool for social and behavioural change is an emerging area among stakeholders in communication for development space. ‘Mobile Phone as a Tool for Social & Behaviour Change’ is a joint effort of UNICEF India and DEF to explore various projects where women, adolescent girls and youth have effectively used mobiles in areas of health, education, sanitation, environment, monitoring and training of frontline workers. Trying to examine the prospects of ‘Mobile Phone as a Tool for Social & Behaviour Change’, DEF and UNICEF India organised a two-day consultation on 9th and 10th May, 2013, in New Delhi. The second part of the project attempted to scale up at a wider level and provide solution-based tools to various ongoing challenges surrounding the issue of women, adolescents, youth, girls, children and sectors across health, education, nutrition, and empowerment. This project attempts to study concerns around MSBC and create a formidable platform to provide knowledge on diverse MSBC implemented projects and help in developing partnerships between state governments and MSBC players. Targeted states are Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, & Tamil Nadu.

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  • 100+ case studies reviewed and compiled in MSBC Caselet Directory
  • 50+ shortlisted case studies presented to the relevant stakeholders
  • 1 research report on ‘Mobile Phone: A Tool for Social & Behavioural Changes’ published
  • 5 consultation with UNICEF state offices conducted in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Assam
  • 470 participants engaged in 5 consultations

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Towards Digital Environmental Sustainability in India & South Asia through Digital Circular Economy and Society


The Digital Green Prakriya / Processing (DGP) is the initiative to contribute to a sustainable digital circular social-economic-cultural-institutional ecosystem in India, a leading economy and society in Global South, with its enormous digital adoption, and integration across all sectors. The DGP is for a need based digital circular economy (DCE), particularly within the electronics sector, towards a framework that aims to create a sustainable balance between accelerating digital needs and environmental concerns. This through efficient lifecycle for electronic products and their components, while maximizing their value and minimizing environmental impacts. DGP seeks to combine the principles from the circular economy and digital technology to create a more resource-efficient and environmentally friendly electronics industry in India and South Asia.

DGP is a research, advocacy, implementation and training and capacity enhancement effort, since 2011, led by the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and partner agencies including Council for Social and Digital Development (CSDD).


The Digital Green Prakriya was a dynamic one-time platform created to initiate a continuous process of learning, sharing and collaboration among all stakeholders towards empowering a sustainable habitat. The objective was to create a knowl­edge eco-web of how information and communication technologies can play an instrumental role in empowering a sustainable habitat. It was an integration of all efforts towards the attainment of the goal of Green India and practicing optimal utilisation of the given natural resources as envisaged in the Prime Minister’s National Action Plan for Climate Change.

The platform, when established, aimed to track and monitor the growth of technology waste in the society; promote multi-stake­holder collaboration for using ICTs to protect the environment; create a rich knowl­edge base of technology solutions for addressing environment issues; conduct awareness and outreach programmes through seminars and workshops; encourage policy advo­cacy for use of ICTs to protect the environment; Having worked on a baseline report on India’s National Policy on e-waste titled ‘ICT and Environmental Sustainability’.

In 2018, Digital Empowerment Foundation in partnership with the Association for Progressive Communications rekindled the project; this time with a new mission—to study and understand the e-waste recycling system post the auctions of electronic waste in both public and private institutions. The study aimed to understand what exactly goes-on in the system post the e-waste auctions takes place either directly or through MSTC which leads to most of the e-waste ending up in unauthorized dumping and dismantling hubs across the country. The project also looked at doing a Cost benefit analysis to map out the risks and the benefits associated within the e-waste sector. This research project involved coalition with other organizations working in this domain to strengthen the overall Impact


  • Advocate for sustainable circular economy policies and programmes at institutional, industry, government and community levels;
  • Build networks of organisations for digital circular economy in India, South Asia and Asia-Pacific region;
  • Undertake research and studies for greater and relevant evidence building for transformation change from linear to circular digital pathways;
  • Design and implement digital circular economy process-oriented projects at various levels;
  • Develop materials and resources in digital circular economy related elements for training, capacity building, advocacy and sharing.

DGP STRATEGY 2023-2026

Developing a 3-year strategy to promote a digital circular economy while balancing digital needs and environmental concerns requires a comprehensive approach that includes various aspects such as awareness building, collaboration, policy advocacy, technological innovation, and capacity building.

Under DGP, the focus is on the following:

Year 1: Foundation and Awareness

  1. Research and Analysis:
  • Conducting studies and research with in-depth analysis of the current digital consumption patterns, environmental impacts, and existing initiatives related to the digital circular economy.
  • Identifying key stakeholders, potential partners, and areas for intervention.
  1. Awareness Campaign:
  • Launching a targeted awareness campaign to educate the public, businesses, and policymakers about the concept of a digital circular economy and its benefits for both digital and environmental sustainability.
  • Utilising various communication channels, including social media, webinars, workshops, and partnerships with educational institutions.
  1. Stakeholder Engagement:
  • Engaging with tech companies, e-waste recycling facilities, governmental agencies, and other relevant stakeholders to foster collaboration and gather insights for informed decision-making.
  1. Pilot Projects:
  • Initiating small-scale pilot projects that showcase the principles of a digital circular economy, such as repairing and repurposing electronic devices, and promoting the use of open-source software.

Year 2: Collaboration and Innovation

  1. Partnerships:

Establishing partnerships with tech companies, environmental organizations, academic institutions, and local communities to pool resources and expertise in promoting digital circularity.

  1. Policy Advocacy:
  • Working with policymakers to advocate for regulations that incentivize eco-design, e-waste management, and the development of sustainable digital technologies.
  • Providing evidence-based research and case studies to support policy proposals.
  1. Innovation and Research:
  • Collaborate with research institutions and tech companies to develop innovative solutions that promote repairability, modularity, and longevity of digital devices.
  • Support research on energy-efficient computing, sustainable data centers, and recycling methods for electronics.
  1. Capacity Building:
  • Organize workshops, training programs, and hackathons to empower individuals and businesses with the skills needed to embrace digital circularity.
  • Create a network of repair and refurbishment centers to extend the lifespan of electronic devices.

Year 3: Scaling and Impact

  1. Scaling Up:
  • Expand successful pilot projects into larger initiatives with a wider geographical reach.
  • Collaborate with governments, businesses, and international organizations to replicate and scale effective strategies.
  1. Public-Private Partnerships:
  • Forge partnerships with tech giants, retailers, and e-commerce platforms to integrate circularity principles into their business models and product offerings.
  1. Measurement and Reporting:
  • Develop a set of metrics to measure the impact of the organization’s efforts on digital circularity and environmental sustainability.
  • Regularly report progress to stakeholders, donors, and the public to maintain transparency and accountability.
  1. Global Engagement:
  • By year 3, participate in major international conferences, forums, and networks focused on digital sustainability to share insights, learn from others, and contribute to the global dialogue.
  1. Policy Influence:
  • Continue to engage with policymakers to refine and strengthen regulations that support the digital circular economy.
  • Advocate for the integration of circular economy principles into broader sustainability agendas.


  • Research & Study: Undertaking contextual studies and research in digital and environmental sustainability; community survey; evidence building; data generation & analysis. Studies around e-waste management sustainability, digital circular economy adoption and awareness; sustainable rural digital enterprise; sustainable community network design and implementation for last mile access and inclusion.
  • Advocacy: Undertaking advocacy with local government, regional and national government for sustainable e-waste management for social, economic and environmental sustainability at community levels; advocacy for circular economy for electronics and electrical sector in India; global advocacy with partners like Association for Progressive Communication (APC) through platforms like ENVSUS;
  • Developing resources for training & Capacity building: Undertake development of content, materials and resources for training, skill development, capacity building with stakeholders with focus on community empowerment. For example – ‘A guide to the circular economy of digital devices’, with APC members and partners []
    • Project Implementation: Undertaking project design and implementation for policy and programme relevant to promote circular economy steps, models, and processes at community, industry, and local government levels.
      • Implementing pilot projects on – Community Repair Cafes – for promoting repair and reuse culture at community level. Implemented in Telangana, Haryana and Assam provinces in India.
      • Implementation of project on – Grassroots Network of Repairers; implemented and created a pool of 200 such repairers in as many locations;
      • Implementation of – Rural e-Waste Collection Centres; these are located in 25 rural locations in India in 25 such locations.
      • Implementation of sustainable rural digital entrepreneurs’ programme – ‘Soochnapreneur’; more than 2000 such sustainable rural digital entrepreneurs created pan India –
      • Transforming the Education Ecosystem through STEAM: With 300+ makerspaces across 24 states in India, working towards strengthening the maker and repair ecosystem in India.
      • Implementing sustainable ‘Wireless for Communities’ (W4C) community network for last mile access and empowerment, an initiative of Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and the Internet Society (ISOC) –
    • Digital Environmental Sustainability Network (DESNET): Engaging organisations towards building digital environmental sustainability network for research, advocacy, implementation and transformation towards digital environmental balancing through digital circular economy principles and practices.

Digital Green Prakriya Standee

Digital Green Prakriya Banner

Digital Green Prakriya Flyer

Flow Chart Workshop Banner

Digital Green Prakriya Workshop Banner


The Digital Green Prakriya (DGP) initiative is led by the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and Council for Social and Digital Development (CSDD). It involves key partners like – Association of Progressive Communication (APC), KARO SAMBHAV and others.





Digital Innovation Ecosystem Review

Addressing challenges and identifying best practices within digital ecosystems of developing nations since 2016

Digital Innovation Ecosystem Review is an initiative of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to understand the digital ecosystems of developing nations in an effort to highlight the best practices, identify the challenges and suggest recommendations for a strengthened digital innovation ecosystem where all stakeholder groups contribute and earn benefits. This was achieved through primary survey of six individual groups (academicians, finance, public sector, private sector, entrepreneurs, and support groups), besides secondary data analysis of existing ecosystems with Kenya and Thailand and success models around the world. Further, workshops were hosted by members of ITU and DEF for the stakeholder groups to brainstorm on their respective policies. As an outcome of the initiative, the respective governments of Kenya and Thailand were handed over the research study to incorporate measures to reach their digital ecosystem vision more efficiently.


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Fighting Fake News

Creating an environment for accurate and verified information since 2018

Conversations on the Internet, particularly social media, are often a reflection of the conversations that one has offline. However, online conversations come with the advantage of not being restricted to a small group of people physically present around you. The barriers of geography and time do not exist online. However, not everyone uses this opportunity for positive messaging.

In an effort to address the challenge of misinformation and disinformation in the country, WhatsApp has partnered with DEF to create awareness among WhatsApp users about the need to verify information. In the run up to the upcoming Assembly and General elections, DEF has committed to hold 40 training sessions for community leaders in 20 districts of 10 states across the country where there have been worrisome cases of violence or in states that will go to polls before the end of the year.

Under this training workshop-oriented initiative, DEF organises workshops to educate government officials, administration representatives, police officials, civil society organisations and college students to help spread the word about the challenge of the increasing virality of fake news. The training will encourage WhatsApp users to be more open towards other communities, to enable them to differentiate between opinions and facts, and to inculcate a habit of verifying information through simple checks before forwarding it to their friends and family. In addition, DEF will incorporate this new training as part of their network of over 30,000 grassroots community members in five states.

As part of this project, DEF is also working on a survey research project to understand the trends of WhatsApp consumption in Tier III cities and villages of India, and to analyse how users are accessing and processing the information they receive on their messaging application.

DEF’s regional team in Rajasthan is also a contributing partner to the temporary newsroom set up by BBC in Rajasthan, ahead of the 2019 General Elections, to identify viral messages and debunk fake news.

Status: Ongoing


  • 2300 people have been trained in simple verification techniques in 5 states so far

For more information, please mail us at

Tracking the Troll

Creating a safe space for digital citizens since 2018

Trolling or cyber bullying is a phenomenon that is on the rise around the world and the United States and India are no exception. A recent National Women in Media in India (NWMI) conference underscored how female media professionals (journalists, bloggers, editors, publishers) and minority communities (LGBTQ+ community, religious minorities) are particularly subject to abuse by online trolls who seek to muzzle, intimidate, misrepresent, and stymie these individuals and their respective institutions or communities.

Tracking the Trolls: A South India Initiative is a survey research project that aims to assess the nature, scale, and impact of trolling targeted at media persons, lawyers, technologists, activists, academics, NGO workers, and civil society at large in South India.

Under this initiative, DEF is carrying out a research survey with 1000 respondents to ask them about the nature of trolling they receive/received. The quantitative findings of this survey, complimented with supplementary research and interviews, will investigate the social, psychological, and professional impact this online behaviour may cause.

Once the research findings are analysed, DEF will present the results through a research report at a two-day workshop in Bengaluru in 2019 with the aim to find ways of building resilience among individuals to counter trolling. This workshop will serve civil society to come together to ideate on solutions and create a consortium of relevant stakeholders who will work to implement potential solutions to target online trolls.

You can take the survey in English, Tamil, Kannada or Malayalam.

Status: Closed

For more information, please mail us at

Community Network Exchange

Advocating for connecting the remaining 3.5 billion since 2017

Community Network Exchange (CNX) is an initiative of Digital Empowerment Foundation to constantly empower communities, especially marginalised and information-dark communities throughout Asia Pacific Region, with the power of information and know-how of community networks.

Organised as an annual workshop supported by APAC and the Internet Society, CNX 2017 saw community network operators from Asia Pacific engaging with each other to share their models, problems and solutions. The next CNX identified synergies between community networks and community radios in an effort to promote public Wi-Fi system across Asia Pacific.

At the core, CNX works on three levels — Training & Exchange, Knowledge & Network, Research & Advocacy. Through these levels, it aims to develop a comprehensive and self-contained guide to strengthen grassroots expertise by training community members in basic wireless technology and organise country-level exchange programmes for learners and barefoot wireless network engineers. Most recently, 10 international community network operators underwent a 10-day training programme in Guna, Madhya Pradesh, to understand community networks in the Indian context under the Community Network Championship. Under Knowledge & Network.

Status: Ongoing

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Creating a pool of resources for persons facing online harassment since 2018

Online abuse, trolling and cyber bullying are rampant in cyberspace. Reports suggest that 76 per cent of women under age 30 have faced some form of online abuse or harassment. Many of these women never report such incidents out of societal fear. It is crucial that when faced with harassment of this kind, people are aware of the options available to them to counter this abuse.

An initiative by Digital Empowerment Foundation and OLX WebAware, Project Women Act Against Trolls (WAAT) aims to build a community to fight back against trolls, cyber bullies and online stalkers. WAAT provides a central repository of information one must be equipped with to report online abuse. The web page compiles information about cybercrime cells in India, cybercrime laws in the country, digital security tool kits, resources to help those facing cyber bullying, and a discussion board where people can share their stories and find support through our Friends of WAAT.

For more information, please mail us at

Research & Advocacy

We understand that DEF can only achieve its goals with the full support of all stakeholders, including the government, industry, civil society organisations and ordinary citizens. This requires advocacy campaigns; and advocacy in turn requires research and knowledge support. Projects in this programmatic area, therefore, address the twin needs of advocacy and research.


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