"I chose to fight, be brave, and to deal with it": Threat Experiences and Security Practices of Pakistani Content Creators


Lea Gröber, CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security and Saarland University; Waleed Arshad and Shanza, Lahore University of Management Sciences; Angelica Goetzen, Max Planck Institute for Software Systems; Elissa M. Redmiles, Georgetown University; Maryam Mustafa, Lahore University of Management Sciences; Katharina Krombholz, CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security


Content creators are exposed to elevated risks compared to the general Internet user. This study explores the threat landscape that creators in Pakistan are exposed to, how they protect themselves, and which support structures they rely on. We conducted a semi-structured interview study with 23 creators from diverse backgrounds who create content on various topics. Our data suggests that online threats frequently spill over into the offline world, especially for gender minorities. Creating content on sensitive topics like politics, religion, and human rights is associated with elevated risks. We find that defensive mechanisms and external support structures are non-existent, lacking, or inadequately adjusted to the sociocultural context of Pakistan.

Disclaimer: This paper contains quotes describing harmful experiences relating to sexual and physical assault, eating disorders, and extreme threats of violence.

Open Access Media

USENIX is committed to Open Access to the research presented at our events. Papers and proceedings are freely available to everyone once the event begins. Any video, audio, and/or slides that are posted after the event are also free and open to everyone. Support USENIX and our commitment to Open Access.