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Policy Briefs on Social Media, Technology and Peacebuilding

Social Media, Technology and Peacebuilding

Social Media and Conflict Dynamics on Northern Ireland’s Peace Lines

Policy Brief  No.67 - December, 2019

At interfaces between the Republican and Nationalist Catholic neighbourhoods and predominantly Loyalist and Unionist Protestant neighbourhoods in Northern Ireland, the violence during the ‘Troubles’ (1969-1999) was particularly raw and volatile. As the peace process took hold, enormous effort by community leaders, paramilitaries and other agencies has helped to gradually reduce street conflict to low levels. However, the rise of social media in the last 5-10 years has added a new dimension, both good and bad. Particularly concerning are arranged fights, often sectarian, involving the use of weapons. How does social media impact conflict dynamics in a post-conflict region like Northern Ireland? This policy brief explores the nature of the problem and how those at the frontline such as youth workers, residents and the police use social media to counter it, and offers recommendations for the future.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament Social Media, Technology and Peacebuilding

Social Media Arrives on the Nuclear Stage

Policy Brief  No.66 - November, 2019

This brief draws from a Nautilus Institute, Technology for Global Security, Preventive Defense Project workshop, when a speed-scenarios exercise involving nuclear weapons and social media experts and practitioners was conducted to explore antidotes to potentially catastrophic effects of social media on the risk of nuclear war. To anticipate how social media might play out in the world of nuclear early warning, studies of social media in other domains where it was used to promote extremist views and behaviour were examined: anti-vaccination, anti-Semitism, gang, ethnic, and terrorist violence in cities. Four “short circuit” hypothetical, imaginary scenarios were produced at the workshop that explored how and what circuit breakers might be created that avoid or overcome the destabilising effect of social media on nuclear early warning systems and nuclear command decisions.

Social Media, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weaponised Information in Brazil: Digitising Hate

Policy Brief  No.63 - November, 2019

In the last few years, the world information ecosystem has been flooded by the “fake news” phenomena. The fragmentation and scale of the new communication tools help spread old ideologies, that uphold racism, homophobia, and oppression. This phenomenon particularly afflicts developing countries, because of the persistent inequality and political polarisation. This policy brief analyses the weakest points in Brazilian information ecosystem and demonstrates how that structure created a nurturing environment for disinformation and hate speech before and after the 2018 elections. It concludes with short- and medium-term strategies for governments, institutions and civil society, as well as tech and social media companies that will mitigate the negative societal disturbances of hate speech and disinformation.

Social Media, Technology and Peacebuilding

Venezuela’s 21st Century Authoritarianism in the Digital Sphere

Policy Brief  No.62 - November, 2019

This policy brief summarises extensive information on digital rights violations and politically motivated information disorders affecting Venezuelans, principally social media users. The brief focuses on the conflict dynamic between an authoritarian government and those fighting for re-democratisation. Venezuelan government policies and actions amid the process of eroding democracy are revisited. The most pressing issues affecting internet freedom and digital rights are scrutinised. Emphasis is placed on the discussion of the dynamics of the coordinated spread of online propaganda and government-sponsored disinformation. Issues surrounding the deployment of digital ID, biometrics data, and risks of massive surveillance are also identified. The brief concludes with policy recommendations for social media companies, journalists, civil society organisations, and policy shapers involved in democratic transition efforts.

Social Media, Technology and Peacebuilding

The Use of Social Media in Colombian Democratic Spaces: A Double-Edged Sword

Policy Brief  No.61 - November, 2019

The era of social media brings opportunities and challenges to a broad range of stakeholders in Colombia, to harness the power of technological innovation and to foster a more open and transparent democracy in the midst of conflict. This policy brief examines the positive and negative influence of social media in three cases: (i) the 2016 plebiscite about the endorsement of a peace agreement with the FARC-EP guerrilla; (ii) the presidential elections of 2018; and (iii) the threats and crimes against social leaders since the peace agreement was signed. Based on the cases analysed, the document draws recommendations for different actors at the local, national and international levels, to both minimise the harm and maximise the good of using social media in Colombian democratic spaces.