The Tech Coalition Safe Online Research Fund is granting 4 awards to further accelerate the work of organisations from the first cohort of grantees. The additional funds will be for a duration of 12 months and will support projects to extend research to applications such as piloting solutions, technical collaboration and innovation efforts.
The boost in funding is a move towards promoting more real-world application of independent research - and strengthening application of research to product and service development within the tech industry. Building on the existing research grants, the Fund aims to enhance the community of practice for online CSEA research to support capacity across the ecosystem in tackling digital harms against children.
Read more on the innovative projects that have been awarded the boost funding below:
Dublin City University: Understanding Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in the Philippines
The additional funding will help translate findings from a white paper developed in the first phase of the project to practical policy changes and recommendations to improve detection and reporting of online CSEA-related transactions on financial platforms – as well as refining a typology to support enhanced online CSEA-related payments detection. The project will also develop and pilot a public awareness campaign (online and offline) in the Philippines alongside key stakeholders to develop greater community understanding of the scope and harm of online CSEA to children, reduce associated stigma and encourage reporting - thus enabling better detection of the crime as well as deterring potential offenders at the level of online CSEA-affected communities.
Technological University Dublin: N-Light Discovering Child Grooming patterns
In the first phase, the N-Light project gathered and analysed data from the national child agency (ISPCC), national Hotline (Hotline.ie) and Dark web CSAM text posts. CSAM posts were identified and visual explorations were developed to allow investigation. The new funding will support the conversion of the static models and analyses into a deployed software tool, with a wider user base. This will allow agencies to analyse the most recent data to spot grooming techniques and correlations over relevant timelines between child victim reports and groomer activity discussions; extend into more sophisticated analyses including the ability to profile messages coming from child victims; deploy the tools to their partners and beyond; and adapt the tool such that other hotline/ child agency partners can take use the tool to analyse their own data.
University of Kent: Understanding and improving help seeking by people at risk of online child sexual exploitation and abuse
The findings from the first phase of the project demonstrate ways to further optimise existing 'get help' messaging to promote not only deterrence but importantly, help seeking. Furthermore, findings show alternative messages as well as reframed industry-typical messages that are perceived as more effective promoters of help seeking. These are findings from tightly controlled studies. To transform industry practice, these findings need to be implemented “in the wild” of the internet ecosystem. Through partnering with industry collaborators, real-world links can be established between message content and click-throughs to helplines and other prevention resources. The new funding will allow us greater collaboration with tech organisations to pilot alternative warning messages and to track their impact and through this to translate our existing work into industry-wide solutions promoting greater engagement with help resources.
University of Middlesex: Invisible Risks
This funding would be used to further develop and expand the intervention prototype developed in the initial funding to enhance the wellbeing of content moderators addressing child sexual abuse and exploitation. The current research project helped develop skeleton versions of three online intervention modules: sleep hygiene, managing anxiety and staying positive. However, the evidence has identified a number of other areas that need development including, but not limited to, managing intrusive thoughts, maintaining positive relationships and maintaining a work/life balance. The additional funding will provide the opportunity to enhance and expand these modules even further, resulting in a highly effective online platform that can significantly support content moderators in their self-driven psychological wellbeing.