Policy Brief No.55 - October, 2019
Over the past few years, internet access and adoption in India has grown tremendously, giving Indians more access to the online information ecosystem than ever before. Today, India is one of the largest markets for technology platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook. However, the adoption of these technology platforms has also enabled misinformation and disinformation to spread at scale in the country. This has resulted in the eruption of violence and even the deaths of dozens of people. This policy brief explores the false information ecosystem in India, highlighting the key players and approaches they have implemented to curb the spread of misinformation and disinformation. It also offers a set of recommendations for how these efforts can be improved going forward.
Policy Brief No.51 - October, 2019
The rise of social media in Zimbabwe has brought with it a greater variety of platforms which offer people a means to express themselves. However, the democratisation of information and the increase in digital spaces have also come with greater state restriction and polarisation among Zimbabweans. This policy brief discusses the state’s attempts to act as the proctor of social media in order to explore the relations between users of online platforms in terms of political leanings and gender. To this end, it will also discuss how online targeting can exacerbate already existing political divisions between people and how the state uses legal instruments to surveil and regulate online activity as a way of maintaining its iron grip on the people. The policy brief concludes with recommendations aimed at stopping hateful, harmful or false narratives being spread at the click of a button.
Policy Brief No.50 - October, 2019
This policy brief analyses the use of social media by different groups affected by Boko Haram’s terrorist insurgence, including the group itself. The rate, speed, spread and belief which information from social media commands has changed theatres of war and amplified terrorist threats. The Nigerian youth who are the forerunners of social media use in the country have further employed Hashtag (#) Activism for varied causes regarding Boko Haram. This study examines the use of social media in ‘orchestrated data circulation’ by both the insurgents and the Nigerian government, and the populace’s growing awareness of the power they wield by simply having internet data and a phone. This brief concludes with recommendations regarding ways that tech companies and Civil Society Organisations could re-influence the social media dynamics in Boko Haram’s terrorist insurgence.
Policy Brief No.45 - July, 2019
This is the second of two policy briefs on polarisation in relation to digital media. It describes interventions currently being attempted by NGOs and other peacebuilders using digital platforms as their medium, and interventions that the platforms themselves have tested and/or put into action, including in some cases how the impacts are measured. Many organisations and individuals are working on digital peacebuilding, while a larger number explore broad societal impacts of digital media and the research questions identified in the first brief. The conclusion of this brief categorises interventions according to the degree of invasiveness felt by their subjects, discusses their costs and benefits, and provides recommendations for digital media platforms.
Policy Brief No.44 - July, 2019
This policy brief is one of two which examines the issue of polarisation and the extent to which it is driven by digital media. Even if polarisation is not driven by digital media, severe conflicts playing out on the digital stage are in themselves an urgent problem. It is plausible that some forms of digital media drive polarisation and others do not, and also possible that digital media impacts vary by culture. No matter “who is to blame,” new opportunities to build peace are blossoming on digital media. Many people are working hard to build peace using the Internet, and we can learn a lot from their approaches. This first brief is a research overview about polarisation and policy issues related to digital media. After summarising a range of studies in this area, the policy brief closes with a series of questions highlighting where further research is most needed.