In response to increasing online harassment against women journalists and other public figures in Africa, Code for Africa (CfA), has partnered with Google’s Jigsaw to launch FeedShield, an online toolkit to help document abuse and unmask trolls.

FeedShield is a technology that uses advanced AI-powered machine-learning techniques to safeguard people against online attacks. By aggregating evidence of such assaults, FeedShield empowers users to take action and report the abuse to the appropriate authorities.

Users can also seek assistance from CfA's team of forensic investigators, who are trained to trace and expose the perpetrators of the abuse, as well as determine whether the attacks were part of a coordinated effort.

In this way, FeedShield is a vital tool for protecting women against the growing threat of cyber aggression. FeedShield is built on Jigsaw’s open-source Harassment Manager toolkit and it also enables users to unfollow, mute and block toxic content.

FeedShield will initially tackle trolling on Twitter, adding other social media platforms as access to relevant data becomes available. CfA’s initial launch will focus on Anglophone Africa and expand to offer support to users elsewhere in Africa from January. Arabic and Francophone versions of the tool will launch in 2023.

CfA’s forensic team, at the iLAB, already helps civic watchdogs detect and unmask coordinated networks of disinformation conspiracists and extremists for partners ranging from the United Nations to local investigative media. They will now also support any FeedShield users who want to trace the trolls who are abusing them, to understand whether the attacks were part of an organised intimidation campaign.