Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Centered Computing

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Bart P. Knijnenburg

Committee Member

Dr. Kelly Caine

Committee Member

Dr. Guo Freeman

Committee Member

Dr. Andrew Robb

Committee Member

Dr. Marten Risius


Socio-technical systems have been revolutionary in reshaping how people maintain relationships, learn about new opportunities, engage in meaningful discourse, and even express grief and frustrations. At the same time, these systems have been central in the proliferation of harmful behaviors online as internet users are confronted with serious and pervasive threats at alarming rates. Although researchers and companies have attempted to develop tools to mitigate threats, the perception of dominant (often Western) frameworks as the standard for the implementation of safety mechanisms fails to account for imbalances, inequalities, and injustices in non-Western civilizations like the Caribbean. Therefore, in this dissertation I adopt a holistic approach to online safety that acknowledges the complexities of harms for understudied populations specifically focusing on the Caribbean.

In this dissertation, I conduct three studies that take steps towards (1) filling in the gap of missing empirical understanding around users’ perceptions of safety threats and how that is associated with their intentions to engage with supportive countermeasures, (2) understanding the gaps in current approaches to justice, and (3) developing an understanding towards the development of equitable and inclusive countermeasures.

In the first study, I conduct a region-wide survey which reveals Caribbean citizens experience high rates of exposure to online threats. Moreover, I show that by conceptually defining protective behaviors based on the threats that they address, it exposes how the perceptions of threats influences the adoption of online safety countermeasures while uncovering distinctions in perceptions depending on the type of harm.

The second study utilizes a multi-disciplinary approach to understand the state of legislative protections. Through a reflective legislative and media analysis, the study uncovered major discrepancies in the region’s approach towards justice in online spaces.

Lastly, the final study incorporates the findings of these works by conducting an online experiment to test the design of justice-oriented safety countermeasures. The results provide support for the development of countermeasures that people perceive to be fair, equitable, and just.

Author ORCID Identifier




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