In a digitally interconnected world, social media algorithms play a pivotal role in shaping our online experiences, from the content we see to the communities we engage with. Understanding and navigating these algorithms has become essential to foster visibility, representation, ally-ship, advocacy, organizing and community building in this information era. While we celebrate these opportunities and advantages, algorithms have also posed significant detrimental impacts such as; targeted online harassment, censorship, stoking fear, mental health challenges, limited distribution of content, exclusion, and, misinformation and disinformation that has heavily manipulated public opinion, further influencing laws and policies especially targeting structurally silenced communities such as LGBTQ+ persons according HER Internet’s latest research report.

Titled Navigating algorithms: the case of structurally silenced communities in Uganda”, HER Internet with support from Mozilla Foundation held a launch event in Kampala on Thursday on 04th April 2024, bringing together a total of 25 stakeholders from civil society organizations, activists and researchers. The purpose of this event was to unpack findings of the research report, offer insight into what is informing organizing and community building for structurally silenced communities in Uganda, and, interrogate the extent to which algorithms influence these actions.

In her welcome remarks, Mulungi Sanyu, the Communications and Advocacy Lead at HER Internet stated that while the new reality is that the internet is no longer a luxury but a necessity in this modern world, not everyone can reap from the benefits or equally gain access to the internet especially for womxn in certain regions and communities who experience significant barriers to utilization of its full potential. Sanyu encapsulated the scope of HER Internet’s work following the mission to create opportunities, equip womxn with digital literacy, cyber security information and safety skills to foster a safer online environment as well as representation. She also called for reaffirmation and commitment to HER Internet’s vision of a world where every womxn has the knowledge, opportunities and resources to thrive in the digital era.

A presentation of key findings of this research report highlighted that the study participants were drawn from four regions across the country; Central, Northern, Eastern and Western Uganda in collaboration with partner organizations. A total of 8 Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) and 65 participants in 4 Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) voluntarily contributed to the body of the research. According to the Project Research Consultant, Juliet Nanfuka, social media platforms have demanded and collected data and information in various forms from internet users through consents given by checking or ticking the small boxes attached to the terms of references without thorough knowledge and understanding. This feeds into tools defined as “algorithms” which formed the basis of this study.

Uganda as a country has presented a very interesting space for such studies to take place because of the undefined stance on social media usage. While social media platforms and their importance are appreciated by users online, there has been blockage of various sites, internet shutdowns and restrictions of platforms like Facebook. Juliet explained in her presentation that even though Uganda currently hosts a population of over 40 million people, about 2.6 million equating to only 5.3% of the total population use social media where several decisions being made impact the broader society by shaping narratives, news and information that drive us today. “A lot of decisions being made are a direct outcome of narratives fueled on social media by a very small percentage of people but boosted by the performance of algorithms. So, we need to understand the interplay between what happens in the digital society and its impact beyond. As a country, we are caught in a very interesting space where we are letting external influences dictate how we engage with each other as citizens,” Juliet noted.

The research report which based on extensive data collection and analysis delves into the experiences, perceptions and challenges faced by structurally silenced communities in interacting with digital platforms, particularly social media. Additionally, it brings to light the dual nature of how social media algorithms impact digital rights of privacy, safety and expression stemming from biases and inequalities. It also suggests actionable recommendations and strategies that can be implemented by social media platforms, funders and community-based organizations to influence the workings of algorithms in favor of structurally silenced communities as they advance their respective advocacy efforts in diverse fields. Some of these recommendations include; Improvement in content moderation practices, increased algorithmic transparency, building evidence-based information consistent with concerns emerging from algorithms, and, conducting security assessments that recognize the influence of algorithms as a safety gap. Continuous funding will also contribute in efforts to examine how platforms are reshaping the lives and practices of internet users in restrictive countries like Uganda.

The challenge underlined in this report was language barrier as it was difficult to explain the term “algorithms” to the study participants in the local languages. This complication also affects others outside the digital and technological landscape who also use English as a language of operation which can distort communication. “The word in itself “algorithms” doesn’t exist in any local languages here in Uganda. Language is in a constant state of evolution but what this research shows is that even in the deeper layers of the internet, we need to find language that speaks more to us as individuals outside of the language of silicone valley to better understand and appreciate what is happening in these spaces. Right now, there is vast disconnect in our understanding of just the word algorithms. And as a consequence, there is a vast disconnect in how we engage with those algorithms or understand what they are doing for and against us. Hence, ultimately impacting our community building and organizing in Uganda,” she expressed.

In a session on regional experience sharing and feedback on the research findings, representatives of the study participants  and other attendees shared their experiences in relation to the impacts of social media algorithms and hopes on how this report can be impactful.

A representative from Mbale in Eastern Region shared, “We had a little bit of language barrier which was settled after and the participants were able to express what they were going through with social media and the way forward for the project. The story telling was good because people shared personal stories about what they have seen, what they are going through and the impact even on instant messaging apps like in WhatsApp groups and other online groups. The research study was quite good and left an impact. We hope that the way forward is that HER Internet will continue to partner with different organizations and continue to share knowledge with our community members on the workings of social media platforms and how to communicate.”

A participant from Mbarara in the Western Region, “This research was really important because we got to realize that our community members had fallen victim when it comes to use of social media… Many of the participants had questions about algorithms, why they were being followed by people they did not know and how they contribute to online violence like blackmail which made up most of the testimonies in the room. We also had discussions of most community members being outed because of social media and not because of the physical environment that they are living in. Our recommendation will be that we still need more engagements around social media because it is part of our stress relief as we heard from the participants. They use social media to relieve themselves from stress and other mental health challenges but unfortunately, they end up being victims of circumstances.”

A mobilizer from Gulu located in Northern Uganda said, “Actually, in my region, the experiences are more similar to other regions. We had some victims who were actually arrested for the use of TikTok in retaliation of abuse and attacks triggered by other people on the platform. It is through this research that we got to know that these algorithms exist and the policies raising the questions of how do we display our work there without compromising ourselves and others? Our recommendation is maybe we continue sharing this information especially with those deep down in the villages and bring them on board so that we can move together.

A participant that took part in the FGD in Kampala said, “Algorithms have been very proactive in spreading misinformation and disinformation. We are in the era of TikTok where someone is comfortable putting up a list of different identities with no worries about the consequences of their actions. The stigma and discrimination were also part of the discussion that we had already witnessed or experienced. If they (algorithms) were really in support of us by spreading the correct information, definitely, we would be on the other side of where we are right now because algorithms do not necessarily fact check. We would not be having these issues. With the level of misinformation and silencing of voices, this project is indeed a more timely project. I think that we have been more focused on the physical violence that we don’t notice the extremes of the digital violence that is ongoing. For recommendations, this project is the first step. I also think that silence is not an option as we see where we have ended up. It is possible that we are going to have a trail of collateral damage along the way but in these steps that we are taking, we need to expose the misinformation and disinformation out there so we can create an equal and just internet for us all.”

A KII who also contributed to this study said, “One of the things that we can look at and commend for our way forward is to figure out how do we link algorithms into the existing loopholes that have been provided in the ever-changing policy and legal climate? How do we thrive off the current technicalities and make them work in our favor for us as a community to shift narratives and conversations online? It is through collaboration among organizations and campaigns. We should use our enemy’s arsenal for our own good.”

The Executive Director at HER Internet, Sandra Kwikiriza, gave a speech in which she expressed her pride and gratitude towards donors, partners and staff for their dedication and support to a cause that fuels HER Internet’s work daily despite all the current challenges like the existing oppressive laws and policies. “Whether it’s providing digital literacy training or advocating for the rights of minority groups in the digital space, our efforts are making a tangible difference. Through stories of empowerment and resilience, we can see firsthand the transformative power of digital rights advocacy.” She reiterated HER Internet’s unwavering commitment to empowering structurally silenced communities in advocating for their digital rights and urged more stakeholders to get on board with HER Internet’s mission. “Whether it’s raising awareness, sharing knowledge, or collaborating with us, your contribution can help us amplify our impact and create a more just and inclusive digital world for all,” Sandra stated in closing as she stressed HER Internet’s commitment in advancement of digital rights for structurally silenced communities in the country and across the borders.

A key note speech was made by Isabella Akiteng, an independent Consultant in Governance, Gender Enthusiast and Process Facilitator. Guided by the quote “use the enemy’s arsenal for our own good”, Isabella reiterated that there’s an urgency for structurally silenced communities to embrace and utilize same tools like algorithms which have been harnessed by anti-rights groups to counter their opposition. “The conversation around algorithms can be unique in a sense that they can be beautiful, for all the reasons that they are bad, if we remove the negativity around those algorithms, they make utter sense. They make perfect sense for organizing.” Isabella also drew attention to the role that algorithms plays into influencing the minds and opinions of the general public, justice system and policy makers, raising safety concerns both in virtual and physical spaces as they can create matter of life and death situations for individuals and communities especially in cases where narratives are negative. “If the content around a particular theme is not deliberately built, then the narrative is negative. And therefore, there is a line of threat based on the algorithm. The conversations around algorithms are a matter of life and death conversations as they go beyond online platforms within the context of Uganda. For all the conversations that we can have about their positives and advantages, they can become a death sentence for communities in Uganda,” she stressed. Isabella saluted HER Internet for the investment in a research that makes all the difference within the current context because it provides an alternative narrative from the one that is out there backed by the algorithm. “Now more than ever, theorizing makes sense because this content provides a counter narrative to any other narrative on the spectrum of social media and that’s one of the ways that we pushback by providing and serving the platforms through counter narratives over what the algorithm may provide and instead begin to safe keep.”

Key takeaways from this event included; demand for transparency from platforms regarding algorithmic processes and data usage, awareness and sensitization campaigns to empower users with knowledge about algorithmic functions and strategies for navigating them to make shifts in narratives and content related to structurally silenced communities by increasingly sharing the right information far and wide through the power of partnerships and collaborations. There should also be intensified advocacy efforts for algorithmic fairness, diversity, and accountability prompting increased community engagement in discussions about algorithms and their impact.

Lastly, the existence of clear policies and regulations in regards to algorithms will help safeguard the rights and well-being of marginalized communities including the LGBTQ+ community. This involves pushing for laws that hold platforms accountable for their algorithms and content moderation practices, ensuring that they don’t perpetuate harmful narratives or discriminate against certain groups. To read and download the research report; https://shorturl.at/hjY14

Navigating Algorithms: The Case for Structurally Silenced Communities- Research Report 2024.

Executive Summary.

At a time when social media has become the backbone of a large part of the digital society, it is important to understand the glue that holds it together. While the different social media platforms offer a range of spaces for networking, research, knowledge generation, kinship, and entertainment, each also offers a distinct value that meet the needs of a diversity of users.

However, many users report a shift in social media from a fun and carefree space to one that is “polluted” and “restrictive” alongside concerns on increasing censorship, harassment, stalking, and discrimination. Often, the violators hide behind keyboards, vague policies and in some cases, vague policies that shield perpetrators more than protect victims.

While social media has become an open house for many, it remains exclusive for some. In Uganda, the cost of data continues to serve an exclusionary function for a population that is yet to meet the affordability target1 – where 5GB of mobile broadband data is priced at 2 percent or less of average monthly income as envisioned by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) and endorsed by the United Nations Broadband Commission.

Meanwhile, the weaponisation of social media by the state including through shutdowns2 (Ugandan users currently do not have access to Facebook following its shutdown in February 2021) and through the use of restrictive policies still hinder the full utilisation of online spaces. However, the scrapping of Section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act which defined offensive communication as the “willful and repeated use of electronic communication to disturb or attempt to disturb the peace, quiet or right of privacy of any person with no purpose of legitimate communication” offered some relief to users in the country to regain some level of trust in the use of platforms.

However, this trust is not enjoyed by all in the country. For the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community, concerns remain rife due to continued and rising levels of homo-phobic rhetoric and bias online. This most especially in the wake of the resurfaced Anti-Homosexuality Amendment Act (2023).

Public discourse online is characterised by misinformation and disinformation, virality tactics and click baiting which have detrimental consequences that only further subjugate the LGBTQ+ community. Meanwhile, concerns that social media algorithms play into reinforcing this narrative is also high. Algorithms fueled by user behaviors and interactions with content serve to create even deeper channels for narratives to sink into popular culture online and offline.

As HER Internet, it is in recognising these concerns that we seek the investigation into these interactions– of platforms, laws, and users – a necessity, especially as platforms reduce the levels of access to data and as civic spaces online and offline shrink for marginalised communities.

The goal of this report is to offer insight into what is informing LGBTQ+ organising and community building in Uganda and the extent to which algorithms influence these actions. The report gives a background into the general social media landscape in the country, and reviews global trends in algorithmic studies. This report will serve as an entry point for further studies into this arena at a time when social media companies are tightening their grip on data which would otherwise help address the concerns held by marginalized communities. Concurrently, growing concerns on content moderation practices, the increased pace at which online communications travels, and the absence of adequate safeguards – both online and offline – all further reinforce the need to build an evidence base upon which progressive policy interventions can be established and pursued by platforms and policy makers.

We appreciate the support of the Mozilla Africa Innovation Mradi: In Real Life (IRL) Fund through which we have been able to tackle these questions across Uganda. In doing so, we have developed a set of recommendations that we hope will influence change and an appreciation of the role that live human experiences play in informing how platforms can work better – especially for marginalized and vulnerable communities often relegated to the sidelines both offline and online.

To download and read a copy: https://www.herinternet.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/HER-INTERNET-REPORT-April-4.pdf


“Ripples” comic book was launched on 7th March, 2024 in commemoration of International Women’s Day #IWD2024. This publication sheds light on the interconnected challenges faced by womxn in navigating both online and offline spaces.


Unveiling “RIPPLES”: HER Internet’s Tribute on International Women’s Day 2024.

The UN report on Tech Facilitated Gender Based Violence in 2023, indicates that the impact of digital violence can be as harmful as offline violence, with negative effects on the health and well-being of womxn and girls as well as cause serious economic, social and political impacts. Online violence can limit the freedoms of womxn to fully engage and participate within digital spaces, thus, increasing the digital gender divide and shrinking women’s voices and spaces to fully express themselves. This is a significant concern given the majority of the estimated 2.9 billion people who remain unconnected to the Internet are women and girls.

During our conventional advocacy week under the global theme #InspireInclusion leading up to International Women’s Day 2024, HER Internet hosted a groundbreaking event on Friday 7th March, 2024, in Kampala to launch our new publication, a comic book dubbed RIPPLES in observance of the International Women’s Day #IWD2024. This event brought together a diverse array of voices and perspectives on how online violence manifests and echoed the spirit of ensuring the inclusion of all womxn in digital spaces as we combat violence against womxn and girls in all its forms.

This publication was birthed from a Focus Group Discussion that took place in August last year where a group of 20 womxn engaged in the creative arts, compelling storytelling and imaginative illustrations to develop a captivating narrative and visuals which explored some events and myriad challenges faced by womxn in all our diversities on the digital space, and, how this translates into physical spaces that we occupy.

In an experience sharing session, Samantha, one of the participants said that the creation of the comic book was characterized by relatable ideas and inclusive. She noted that the use of different images created a room for simplified and better understanding of the concept for all who took part, and furthermore, provided valuables insights into how the internet influences our offline lives.

A representative from Eastern region who was also one of the participants expressed her pleasant surprise to learn that the focus group discussion took on an art therapeutic dimension through the innovative use of various mediums like paint colors and pencils in crafting of the comic book. She also elaborated that participants were encouraged to reconnect with their childhood memories and unleash their imaginations through engaging in storytelling and drawing exercises.

The Board Secretary at HER Internet, Ophelia Kemigisha expressed her sincere gratitude to HER Internet for the inclusive process involved in developing of the comic book drawing from the shared experiences of the participants. Despite the challenges faced in the current context particularly referencing the unanticipated enforcement of repressive laws shrinking the civic space, Ophelia extended her appreciation to everyone in the attendance for their commitment to advancing equal rights for all. She also emphasized the importance of standing up for both digital and human rights for communities of structurally silenced groups as they ultimately serve and benefit everyone.

In a speech to commemorate the day, Sandra Kwikiriza, the Executive Director at HER Internet, acknowledged the need to address the gender gap of womxn and queer people hence demanding for an inclusive and diverse in technology development. “We must also ensure that womxn and queer people are involved in developing technology and resources, and that it is used in ways that do not perpetuate gender- based discrimination and stereotypes but creates positive change and breaks down the barriers to one’s empowerment. This requires a conscious effort to address the gender gap in the technology industry and to promote diversity and inclusivity in tech-related fields.”

It is disheartening to witness barriers hindering structurally silenced communities from reaching their full potential with digital technologies. However, matched with collective efforts, it is crucial to empower womxn and queer individuals in bringing about significant and necessary change in gender equality both online and offline. Sandra implored attendees to embark on meaningful transformations to create a more inclusive and equitable world for everyone. “As I am deeply committed to womxn’s empowerment and gender equality, I am saddened by how womxn and queer people are held back from their full potential. But at the same time, I am deeply motivated to work to empower us in any and every way, in both professional and in personal settings. I hope that you all feel and act in the same way as it is up to all of us to bring about substantial and meaningful change, that not only needs to, but must happen,” Sandra stated in her address.

As the world commemorates International Women’s Day #IWD2024, “RIPPLES” stands as a testament to the enduring power of storytelling and the transformative potential of collective action. Through a compelling narrative and indelible imagery, the comic invites readers to join in the movement for gender justice, inclusive and equality online and offline, one ripple at a time!

To read and download RIPPLES comic book; https://shorturl.at/dhzI5


Good afternoon to you all,

I am honoured to be here today, a day before the International Women’s Day 2024, to address a critical issue that affects not just structurally silenced communities but society as a whole; violence. Violence against women and the LGBTQ community globally and in Uganda continues to rise despite efforts and measures implemented by states, civil society and other stakeholders to address it. The UN statistics on 1 in 3 women experiencing some form of violence within their lifetime still stands to date, and that number goes up with LGBTQ individuals and others who are on the margins such as those living with disability.

This violence however, rarely takes into account online violence and how it is a reflection and extension of what occurs offline. Technology facilitated violence is on the rise as we shall see later today with the Ripples comic book being launched.

Women – especially women human rights and environmental defenders, activists, feminist groups, LGTBQI persons, and young women continue to face widespread discrimination and violence offline and online as well as unequal access to the internet and technology. All of which are being fueled by cultural and social norms that reinforce gender stereotypes of women, and of men, significantly threatening participation of women in digital and public spaces resulting in tremendous, often irreversible harm on the mental health, wellbeing, and safety of women and girls.

In the context of COVID-19, scarcity of resources and the closing civic spaces for organizing, organizing that is often on the margins (including organizing led by queer communities) is increasingly taking place online. Digital spaces also create opportunities for breaking isolation, shifting popular narratives, and building movements. Thematic groups, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, influencers, web activists, and digital forums are flourishing on platforms that are increasingly transforming the face of feminist engagement.

By using technology to promote gender-responsive policies and practices, we can create a more inclusive and equitable society. This includes promoting the use of technology to improve access to education and economic opportunities for women and queer people enhancing their participation in decision-making and leadership positions, and creating safe spaces for them to share their experiences and ideas.

We must also ensure that women and queer people are involved in developing technology and resources, and that it is used in ways that do not perpetuate gender- based discrimination and stereotypes but creates positive change and breaks down the barriers to one’s empowerment. This requires a conscious effort to address the gender gap in the technology industry and to promote diversity and inclusivity in tech-related fields.

Everyone’s role in the digital economy is essential for the growth of communities, while the cost of excluding women and queer people from the digital space has deep economic impact. However, gender inequality cannot and should not be addressed by the most affected only.

As I am deeply committed to women’s empowerment and gender equality, I am saddened by how women and queer people are held back from their full potential, but at the same time deeply motivated to work to empower us in any and every way, in both professional and in personal settings. I hope that you all here today feel and act in the same way as it is up to all of us to bring about substantial and meaningful change, that not only needs to, but must happen.

To all the women and queer people here in the room, You are incredible! You are amazing! You are inspirational, and the community draws strength from you. After all, you, and we, can do anything and everything we set our minds too. I am thankful to the team at HER Internet that continues to show us how the internet and our online activities are deeply connected with the offline spaces we create and occupy. And to Martin for pointing this out in his presentation.

To all who were part of the discussion on developing this comic book, thank you for sharing your imagination, stories and experiences with us. I am proud to launch the Ripples comic book today during the Women’s month, that sheds light on the interconnected challenges faced by womxn in navigating both online and offline spaces.

Wishing you all a very, Happy International Women’s Day!

Download; https://www.herinternet.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/ED-Speech-IWD-2024.pdf

Biannual Newsletter 2023 Issue 6.

Get a snapshot of what we have been up to during this second half of the year from the 6th Edition of our Biannual newsletter. Take a tour with us as we reflect and share some highlights and events as we summarize 2023. Download it for free here; https://www.herinternet.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/HI-Biannual-Newsletter-6-2-6.pdf

We extend our unreserved gratitude to allies, partners, friends and community members who continue to support our work and wish you a restful holiday period. Looking forward to connecting again come 2024 towards creation of a feminist internet for all of us!


The annual Mozilla Festival #MozFest has been defined as “part art, tech and society convening, part maker festival, and the premiere gathering for activists in diverse global movements fighting for a more humane digital world.”

Mozilla Foundation hosted its first ever regional Mozfest House #MozFest2023 in Kenya from 21st to 22nd September this year in accordance to the global theme The Collective Power of the People bringing together artists, activists, technologists, designers, students, researchers, policy makers and journalists from diverse communities and movements across the Eastern and Southern Africa. Following a range various of panel discussions, the hybrid event interrogated the emerging issues and local approaches related to Artificial Intelligence (AI) alongside other technological advancements, data governance, how movements are core to catalyzing change online, and, existing people-driven technologies at the intersection of tech and society in Africa.

Our Executive Director at HER Internet, Sandra Kwikiriza engaged in a collective panel conversation with Harvey Binamo (Tech Officer at Magambo Network, Zimbabwe), Lawrence Mute (Human Rights Lawyer and Practitioner, Kenya), Weam Shawgi Hassan (Feminist and Gender Defender, Sudan) and moderated by Roselyn Odoyo (Mozilla Foundation). Within this discourse dubbed “Confronting the Margins”, the speakers explored the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and technology in deepening and shaping the lived realities of diverse structurally silenced communities, existing opportunities in addressing tech marginalization and finding solutions to creating a better digital experience within the African context.

As the African continent advances and adapts to new innovations in technology at breakneck speeds, it is evident that structurally silenced communities are further left behind hence intensifying technological marginalization. The recurrent state sponsored internet shutdowns due to political tensions, digital illiteracy, limited to no access to digital infrastructure and technologies, unwarranted censorship, surveillance, disproportionate access to social services (education and fair employment) and invalidated lived experiences of online forms of harm which have extended over a long period of time even before the realization of AI, are onerous issues posed in access to information and navigating proper interaction with technology today.

“Marginalization is pervasive. It exists in a continuum of things such as freedom of expression, association, mobilization and building networks. Tech has made it easy for us to organize and mobilize in closed groups as we build networks to strategize on how to make our lives better. But if there is a divide between access to tech and access to information, these things are difficult to do. And if we are unable to organize offline, it’s also getting increasingly hard to organize online because of infiltration from people into these spaces…” Sandra explained in her submission on the implication of censorship, surveillance and other existing forms of online violence as a contributor to technological marginalization of already deeply marginalized communities like the queer community, resulting into the deprivation of their rights to privacy, expression and association both online and offline.

Weam highlighted the uncontrollable increase of state sponsored misinformation, disinformation, hate speech and propaganda especially through social media targeting womxn and feminists who are viewed as a stereotype in Sudan for speaking truth to power in the face of the constant wars, hence leading to unwarranted arrests, detentions and threats of violence.

In light of the issue on right to access to information and accessibility to digital friendly tools, Mute explained the limitation of AI as an impediment which doesn’t acknowledge nor address peculiar needs in regards to accessibility especially in respect to persons living with disabilities. “The problem with AI is that it will sort of try to go to the center. And, the danger with going to the center is that it then assimilates and forces all of us to become the same which becomes extremely a challenge for people with disabilities,” Mute expressed as he further raised caution on the impact of source(s) of information and algorithms on content which undermines difference, “Where is this data and algorithms being prepared from? They are getting the information from society. So, if society, in respect of gender is sexist, homophobic or ableist in respect of disability, if you’re not careful, what then you will have is content which undermines a difference …”

To address tech marginalization, content moderation, language inclusion and review of quality of information online should be prioritized by all key players in the digital and tech sector to limit misinformation and spread of harmful narratives propagated by algorithms which facilitate the marginalization of structurally silenced communities. Algorithms especially on social media negate access to factual information, amplifies misinformation and disinformation as sensationalized posts or content attract the most attention and clicks with little progress in ensuring content moderation and quality of information within posts. Intersectionality among big tech companies, policy makers and structurally silenced groups should equally be taken into account to address the adverse challenges of the widening tech marginalization posed by AI.

Palatable social technologies and innovations ought to be considered and adjusted based on diverse contexts. Also, open and free public engagement between decision-makers and citizens in the bargain will foster collaborations among multiple stakeholders to improve internet infrastructure, encourage access and accessibility across the digital landscape in the continent. Lest we forget, the role of legal and policy frameworks is extremely critical and a means to an end to bridge the increasing technological gap.

To get a glimpse of this conversation, watch here; 

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnGIBelsAVk&t=246s

Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTAV410IHfM&t=803s


(Kampala, 6 September 2023) – In the past two weeks, social media in Uganda has been awash with Non-Consensual Circulation of Intimate Images (NCII) with names of the victims used as trending hashtags across different social media platforms especially on Twitter and TikTok, and, further extended to porn sites as content.

A 2018 report by the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Its Causes and Consequences notes that online violence against women may manifest in different forms and through different means, such as non-consensual accessing, using, manipulating, disseminating, and/or sharing of private data, photographs or videos; including sexualized images with the purpose of shaming, stigmatizing or harming the victim.

It is against this background that HER Internet strongly condemns this concerning and escalating form of online violence that disproportionately affects womxn, due to the adverse effects on the victims. Their intimate private images and videos were obtained in secret, uploaded and shared online without their consent and knowledge through breaching their right to privacy both online and offline.

The prevalence of NCII has been attributed to the normalization and trivialization of online violence against women which continues to be downplayed, in addition to the objectification of womxn’s bodies. Initially, the perpetrators of NCII were largely ex-partners of the victims with malicious intentions to humiliate, shame or revenge inciting the common reference ‘revenge porn’. However, NCII is not pornography, but confidential private content that is leaked and shared without consent of the victim and the term ‘revenge porn’ further undermines the magnitude of this type of online violence. Furthermore, the trend of NCII has evolved to include hackers who seek to blackmail and extort, as well as trolls and digital media outlets chasing for clout to increase their following or audience on social media. Due to the well-known fact on the nature of the internet which never forgets, any content distributed online will stick and is almost impossible to control. It is downloaded, saved, archived and/or redistributed with little to nothing to be done about such incidents.

NCII results in long term negative impacts on both survivors and victims that run deeper than what our physical eyes can see. These include; psychological struggles, victimization and vulnerabilities to other forms of online violence (such as cyberstalking, hate speech, body shaming, slut shaming) and finally, the loss of future prospects due to permanence of the victims and survivors’ graphic sexualized content online. This has threatened the presence of women online and forced them to shun or quit online spaces increasing the digital gender divide.

To date, there are no records of any perpetrator responsible for NCII being held accountable, investigated or summoned. Several cases continue to go unreported to law enforcement because in Uganda today, no law within the constitution criminalizes NCII. Victims are actually considered offenders under the Anti- Pornography Act 2014 for creation and distribution of pornographic content under Section 13 of the Act which criminalizes the production, trafficking in, publication, broadcasting, procuring, importing, exporting, selling or abetting any form of pornography. The Data Protection and Privacy Act 2019 does not help matters either since it is neutral and doesn’t mention how to regulate NCII data, coupled with the lack of knowledge on this form of online harm, and willingness to holistically deal with online violence among law enforcement and legal practitioners.

HER Internet’s Executive Director Sandra Kwikiriza says, “This form of online harm is not new, but society’s response to it has become increasingly insidious.  The victims are left to deal with this violence on their own, with devastating consequences for their mental wellbeing. This experience has become normalized and invisibilized on social media and in society in general, driving victims to silence and shame, with profound effects on their confidence and wellbeing further exposing them to harm both online and offline. These attacks may not be physical, but they are often threatening, relentless, and limit womxn’s freedom of expression. Driving womxn and girls out of online spaces is hugely disempowering in an increasingly digital world and damages their ability to be seen, heard and participate in public discourse.”

We believe that using the human rights approach through multi-stakeholder partnerships within the ICT sector, legal fraternity, law enforcement, civil society together with the general public will help regulate and address the issues of NCII in addition to the recommendations suggested below;

  • Report to respective official social media websites which entail policies that prohibit NCII to support the removal of the graphic content from their platforms and prevent any further distribution online.
  • Also, reach out to us for assistance in case you or anyone that you know experiences any form of violence that breaches the community standards on any online platform through email: info@herinternet.org
  • Periodically update your digital security and privacy settings both on your devices and online accounts to avoid emerging cyber threats and spyware.
  • Advocate for provisions within the cyber laws and policies that are gender specific to protect the victims and support strategic litigation processes and efforts for justice.
  • Raise awareness on the different manifestations of NCII and take early action on the threats of violence, cases of blackmail or extortion and harassment both online and offline.
  • Survivors can also reach out to www.stopncii.org which is a free tool designed to support victims of NCII abuse through detection and removal of the images from being further shared online.

To download full statement; https://www.herinternet.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/NCII-Press-Release.pdf


From 14th to 15th August 2023, HER Internet hosted 20 women based in Eastern and Western Uganda to a two-day virtual Digital Safety and Security Training in collaboration with Inuka Women’s Foundation (IWF), Twilight Support Initiative Uganda (TSIU) and Eastern Women Voices of Change (EWVC). The aim of this initiative which was supported by Power of Pride (P.O.P) was to equip participants with basic digital safety knowledge and skills to enable them safeguard against cyber-attacks such as phishing scams and social engineering as well as ensure their privacy and anonymity online.

The Executive Director at HER Internet, Sandra Kwikiriza expressed appreciation in her welcome remarks to the attendees for their passion to take safety and security to another level. She also noted that the timely event which specially targeted women living upcountry was beneficial to help them navigate the internet safely and enhance their advocacy work online for themselves, collectives and communities.

In sessions facilitated by the staff at HER Internet, Kettie Kahume, Sanyu Murungi and Diana Karungi, participants plunged into discussions on the most common hacking techniques in Uganda at present specifically the workings of social engineering and phishing which have become widely used to psychologically manipulate individuals to freely share or hand over their confidential information, and hence, accelerated cyber threats and attacks leading to incredible financial losses, data leaks or breaches and identity theft. It was noteworthy that perpetrators of these cyber-attacks use any exciting information and experiences such as attractive offers, freebies, lavish prizes, urgent calls to action, emergencies and fake sensationalized stories to grip attention of the targeted victim(s).

A discussion on Phone and Social Media highlighted the importance and recommendations to secure communication using mobile phones and social media in order to ensure one’s privacy and safety online considering the rapid unanticipated changes within Uganda’s legislation that affect both the human rights and digital rights of communities of structurally silenced women. Attention was directed to the issues that could raise in case  devices and communications are compromised or unsecured. These include; infringement of digital rights and internet freedoms, increased targeted and unwarranted surveillance, interception of standard calls and messages, cyber-crimes and online gender-based violence which widens the digital gender divide.

To ensure that they do not fall victim to social engineering, phishing and other emerging cyber threats, some recommendations and tips were availed to the participants to boost their digital safety. They were encouraged to only click links with “https” at the beginning of the URL which is a secure version of the HTTP protocol, avoid any suspicious links and steer clear of websites whose offers seem “too good to be true”. They were also advised to use secure instant messaging platforms namely Signal and WhatsApp, cautioned to create strong unique passwords, utilize user-friendly password managers, enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), familiarity with available privacy and security options on respective devices and online accounts, regular updates and installations of reliable antivirus software, monitor app permissions and adapt the daily use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) or secure browsers like the Tor Browser.

To learn more, check out our socials or presentations attached in the links below;





The increase in constant unexpected changes within Uganda’s legal framework along with the internal struggles especially in areas of funding and resource mobilization are problems that have widely hampered the solid existence and smooth operations of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the recent past.

On this account, Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) hosted key stakeholders to a capacity building training workshop on Legal Frameworks and Advocacy Strategies for CSOs and media organizations in Kampala on Friday 21st July 2023 under the #LocalVoices project, a nationwide initiative during the month of July with support from Internews to promote civic awareness, widen reach to structurally silenced groups to enable them utilize the available advocacy approaches and encourage positive reforms within the legal framework which will contribute to a strong and resilient CSO enabling environment.

Acting Executive Director at Chapter Four Uganda, Mr Anthony Masake engages representatives from media and civil society in a session on how to traverse through the current unpredictable legal framework in Uganda.

The Facilitator, Mr Anthony Masake (acting Executive Director at Chapter Four Uganda) emphasized during a session on steering successfully in this ever-changing legal framework that compliance with national regulatory legislation notably; the Company Act (2012), NGO Act (2016), Anti Money Laundering Act (2013) and Data Protection and Privacy Act (2019) will broadly prevent the potential disruptions in operations and shutdowns.

Discussions further examined the several alternative approaches that can be put to use through different Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), expertise and knowledge to foster advocacy efforts both online and offline. “Harnessing the potential of effective advocacy requires a recognition of its potency. It is crucial to adopt innovative approaches to realize the desired goals and vital to articulate the precise details of the activities to be undertaken in the process,” Mr Anthony Masake noted in his presentation on The Power of Advocacy.

The workshop also encompassed more hybrid presentations by experts from the Machine Learning for Peace (https://mlpeace.org/) on the application, benefits and challenges of machine learning, as well as the use of data to boost civic awareness. Jeremy Springman, an Expert from Machine Learning for Peace cautioned that most governments across the world are enhancing all new technologies to limit political competition and enhance oppression, which calls for big data to enable planning through predictive analytics for strategic decision making, documentation and tracking of events and early warning signs to give a better understanding of the operating environment for CSOs.