Focus on Features

Minimize digital harms through design, a guide for product managers and lawmakers.
A project of the Integrity Institute, a think tank focused on protecting the social internet.
The core idea:
Digital harms
largely arise from
platform design
which can be
changed and regulated.
The categories:

Digital Harms

Though digital platforms have unlocked many benefits, they have also enabled new (and exacerbated old) forms of harm. Understanding the broad similarities and subtle distinctions between these abusive behaviors can help you better regulate and mitigate them.

Platform Features

Though we might think of the cause of Online Harms as bad content or bad behavior, the systemic cause is typically the design of the features of the platform, including the platform's business model.

Seeing these connections can help product managers build platforms that are less capable of being abused, and help regulators see the elements of platforms that can be uniformly described and regulated.


Historically, we've looked to content moderation to clean up after abuse. But reacting to user content or behavior is expensive, contentious, and happens only after the harm is done. We can do better, by designing features to be less abuse-able, and regulating away the features most likely to cause harm.

No time to explore? Check out the executive summaries for: