Design for Safety with Eva PenzeyMoog

We’ve all heard about unethical tech products that track and surveil users. But there’s another kind of harm happening in tech: abusers co-opting apps and other digital products to control and hurt their victims. Eva PenzeyMoog explains this growing problem—and shows us how to fight back. 

Content warning: This episode features discussions and specific anecdotes of tech-enabled abuse and interpersonal harm, including domestic violence. 

Eva PenzeyMoog is the founder of The Inclusive Safety Project and author of the new book Design for Safety. Through her work as a tech safety consultant and designer, Eva helps people in tech design products with the safety of our most vulnerable populations in mind.

In terms of trying to talk about this stuff at work, or just with other people who work in tech, it was honestly kind of awkward because this isn't a topic that people like to think about. I talk a lot about domestic violence, there are other ways that this happens. There's issues of child abuse, and elder abuse, and things like unethical surveillance of employees and workers. But domestic violence is the one that I focus on. And just bringing that up, kind of out of nowhere, during a brainstorming meeting, it's kind of weird. And now, you know, my team is very used to it. And they're all really on board and are actually helping with some of this work, which is great, but at first, I think people just aren't used to saying, "Hmm, what about someone going through domestic violence?" It's kind of like, "Wait, that's dark. Do we really need to talk about that?" And yeah, actually, we really do. 

—Eva PenzeyMoog, author of Design for Safety

We talk about:

  • Issues of safety in tech products and how abusers misuse them to cause harm
  • The importance of destigmatizing conversations of user safety in tech and design
  • Who is responsible for ensuring user safety?
  • What qualifies as authentic consent?
  • How to use techniques like a Black Mirror brainstorm and abuser archetypes to uncover and address harm potential in your product 
  • What it was like to publish a book in the middle of a pandemic, and how Eva strives for a sustainable approach to doing this work  

Plus: in this week’s You’ve Got This, Sara discusses how feelings of powerlessness can lead us to look for things we can control. This can often manifest in some toxic workplace behaviors: micromanaging, inability to delegate, obsessing over data. If you, like so many of us, feel these behaviors creeping in, look for places where you can assert control over things that you can actually take ownership of: set a regular hour for a walk each day, institute “no Zoom Thursdays,” schedule a shutoff time during weekdays. And if you find something that works great for you, send us a message. We’d love to hear about it! For all this and more, head on over to https://www.activevoicehq.com/podcast.

 

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