Twenty years ago, the internet was supposed to be a liberatory tool, one that would necessarily lead to more open and more just societies. But while the internet has connected us, amplified the voices of the voiceless, and helped build movements, it has also become a tool to survey, monitor, and repress. Horizontal was founded on the idea that it does not have to be this way–that technology can be empowering and freeing without threatening our basic rights to express ourselves, to document and share events around us, to organize and communicate freely and privately.
Raphael Mimoun, founder of Horizontal, spent years working with human rights defenders and frontline activists in highly repressive environments–in places where dissent is a crime, where basic freedoms are routinely trampled on. His work focused on organizing, strategic planning, and movement-building, but it quickly became evident that technology was becoming a major challenge on its own. Advocates go to jail for posting on social media. Journalists’ communications are intercepted. Phones and computers are infected with spyware. Community leaders are tracked. In some cases, the Internet is shut down altogether to stop the flow of information.
Rather than treating it as a side issue, it became urgent to address technology as its own challenge: to build the skills of vulnerable populations to use technology safely, to develop tools made with and for communities on the frontlines.
We strive for collective decision-making and collaboration rather than hierarchy and competition— both in our internal processes and in our work with our partners.
We engage directly with the communities we seek to serve, actively listen to their wants and needs, and work collaboratively with them to address those needs.
We work to ensure that every facet of our work positively impacts our world. We think critically and intentionally about our social and environmental footprint, in both program design and internal operations.
We believe that sharing and collaboration are most effective to fulfill our mission. We support, advocate for, and develop tools and material that are open-source and free to reuse, modify and publish.
Head of Development & Marketing
Head of Technology
Founder, Head of Programs