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Risks of the Network Age

The Network Age offers a range of opportunities to humanitarian organizations, but there are also several risks which are described in the paper “Humanitarianism in the Network Age”:

  • Accuracy and Utility
    If the basic data is wrong, the decisions based on the analysis of that data will reflect those errors and can lead to incorrect errors.
  • Bias
    The digital divide poses a significant risk. Adopting techniques or models of interaction that rely on new technologies migth further exclude and disenfranchise substantial numbers of marginalized people.
  • Power
    Information systemss, communications and data are expressions of power, and access to information is often a contested space.
  • Information overload
    In a resourcelimited environment, the cost of analysis can easily be overwhelming.
  • Increased expectations
    People start to expect humanitarian organizations to use social media channels appropriately. One example is a Red Cross research which found that three out of four Americans expect help within three hours of posting a request on social media, demonstrating a pattern of year-on-year increases in expectations.
  • Privacy, ethics and security
    New Technologies can create new threats, such as a greater risk of surveillance or manipulation.

(source: Humanitarianism in the Network Age)