Engineering and Policy Development

Designing Safe(r) Digital Intimacy Workshop

June 6, 2024

June 6, 4:30 PM–June 6, 6:00 PM

The Institute for Rebooting Social Media invites students, scholars, and designers to apply for this hybrid workshop exploring new ways to build a safer internet, organized by RSM alum Elissa Redmiles, along with Allison McDonald and Lucy Qin, and featuring a slate of experts.

The Internet is full of explicit content. This media is shared by millions of people for recreational and commercial purposes. Sharing intimate content has benefits for body positivity, relationships, and more. But sharing intimate content also puts people at risk of harm: harm from others sharing their content without consent; harm from others creating intimate content of them without consent (e.g., deepfakes); and harm from stigma toward engaging in intimacy & creating intimate content at all.

This hybrid workshop brings a sex-positive approach to harm reduction: how can we build a safe and sexy internet? We invite scholars and students to tackle safer digital intimacy through the lenses of technology, policy, and design. The workshop will engage invited participants in short talks characterizing the state of the field and  breakout sessions to explore designing interventions for safer digital intimacy.

  • 4:30-5:00 EST – Introductory presentation on use cases, threats, protective strategies and three key design tensions for intimate sharing
  • 5:00-5:40 EST – Ideation Pod Breakouts
    • Participants will be paired with a moderator and a design pod of 2-4 others to tackle one of the three design tensions focused around a particular persona. At the end of the breakout sessions groups will develop a pitch for their “ONE BIG IDEA” to address the tension considered.
  •  5:40-6:00 EST – Idea Pitches
    • Each of the design pods will have 1 minute to present their “ONE BIG IDEA”, including tensions that arose.
  • 6:00-6:30 EST – Reception (in-person) / Open Connection Time (Zoom)


We hope that participants will:

  • Walk away with a sex-positive lens on safer digital intimacy.
  • Walk away with a deep understanding of at least one design tension, one unsolved problem, and one rarely considered use case in digital intimacy.
  • Collaborate with us to inform new design (and policy) spaces.
    • Our past work has elicited suggestions from research participants for what they need in order to more safely share intimate content. These participants include commercial and recreational sexters, some of whom are victim-survivors of image-based sexual abuse, as well as organizations that support victim-survivors. In this workshop, we elicit the varied expertise and perspectives of our participants to similarly inform design and policy spaces for safe(r) digital intimacy.

  1. A report: At the end of the workshop, we will have 18 pitches, Miro boards, and notes to help inform new design spaces. We plan to produce a white paper output from the report synthesizing the ideas shared.
    • Consent: We will not use the work of our participants without consent. Participants will have the opportunity to opt-in to the breakout session work being included in the final report in a named or unnamed manner, as preferred.
    • Participatory Authorship: Those who opt in will be contacted once the report is ready and given 4 weeks to review the report, affirming whether they want to be named as an author, and providing any feedback.
  2. A community: We will offer an opportunity for participants to connect with other participants after the workshop (in-person reception; via Zoom). Additionally, there will be opportunities to connect around shared ideas and continue independent collaboration around the ideas formed in the breakout sessions.

PLEASE NOTE: The Institute for Rebooting Social Media cannot offer any funding for travel or other expenses associated with participating in this event. Thank you for your understanding.


Related Posts