Unicorn Fund awarded to Twitter whistleblower Anika Collier Navaroli

Navaroli also accepts fellowship at Columbia 

The nonprofit Media Democracy Fund has awarded Twitter whistleblower Anika Collier Navaroli the Unicorn Fund, as part of its project that identifies and supports advocates , including journalists, artists and others, who inspire others to exercise courage in order to advance equity and justice.

The news comes as Navaroli joins the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University Journalism School in New York, her alma mater, as a Senior Fellow. Her research will examine social media, tech, free expression and democracy leading up to the 2024 elections.

Navaroli, who receives whistleblower support from The Signals Network, arrives to Columbia from Stanford University where she was a Practitioner Fellow at the Digital Civil Society Lab examining the impacts of moderating hate speech on Trust & Safety employees at tech companies.

The Unicorn Fund is an experimental program for under-resourced grassroots leaders in the U.S. who face attacks for expressing their ideas, telling the truth and taking a stand on the front lines of narrative change.

Awardees of this fund receive an individual grant to help them navigate attacks they are facing. They also receive trainings and one-on-one support with digital security trainers to increase their digital security capacity. A goal of the award is to mitigate the isolation of these individuals by building a community of journalists, activists, artists and others in similar situations.

Unicorn Fund awarded to Twitter whistleblower Anika Collier Navaroli

Navaroli, center, testified to the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Accountability on Feb. 8 about Twitter’s role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Behind her are TSN Legal Director Jennifer Gibson (left) and TSN Director of Operations Rebecca Petras (right).

In September 2022, Navaroli went public in an exclusive interview with Washington Post reporter Drew Harwell  as one of the two Twitter whistleblowers who gave evidence to the U.S. House Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S.  Capitol. Shortly after, she was awarded the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling for her courage in coming forward to speak truth to the  committee. She has subsequently testified to Congress and penned an op-Ed for The Financial Times on Europe’s proposed Media Freedom Act.

In July, Navaroli spoke at a stakeholder event for the Digital Services Act hosted by the European Union. The event was titled “How to preserve freedom of expression and freedom and pluralism of the media on online platforms.” During this event, she also talked about concerns within the Media Freedom Act.

She said the current proposed law “can open the door to industrial scale disinformation” by “creating the sort of limitless category of bad actors who simply self-declare as media entities.”

“We really do not need to create new weapons for information warfare and new vectors and avenues for abuse,” she said.

The Signals Network (TSN) is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to supporting whistleblowers who risk their livelihoods to share public interest information with the press. Founded in 2017 by journalists, whistleblowers and lawyers, TSN operates internationally to hold powerful interests accountable. TSN provides customized support to a selected group of whistleblowers who have contributed to published reports of significant wrongdoing. This support may include legal, psychological, physical safety, temporary safe-housing, online safety, career support and communication support.

For journalist inquiries, email sarah@thesignalsnetwork.org.

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