Marginalized communities online often face disruption from outsiders trying to cause trouble. These communities are targets for coordinated harassment on platforms where anyone can join nearly any discussion and search algorithms enable organized groups to find and disrupt conversations.

Many communities take this risk because the same features also provide pathways to connection for people who are just starting to explore their common identity and values. But witnessing harassment can have what scholars call a “chilling effect” on freedom of expression for bystanders who worry they will be attacked as well.

In a study with the /r/feminism community on Reddit, the CAT Lab team, in collaboration with a team of Princeton students, designed a two-year field experiment to test ideas for reducing this chilling effect on freedom of expression in marginalized groups online.

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