A Myriad of obstacles hindering access to information worldwide
And a report on top spreaders of climate misinformation in Egypt
We hope you’re staying safe and healthy.
Journalists and marginalized communities around the world continue to experience a myriad of challenges hindering their ability to access reliable and quality information online and offline. Harassment, intimidation, threats, targeted disinformation campaigns, and election censorship continue to be obstacles to creating a healthy and thriving information ecosystem.
In North Africa and Western Asia (NAWA) digital persecution, surveillance, and blackmail of queer communities are rampant. Despite their global LGBTQ+ rights commitment, tech giants seem to prioritize profits over addressing these problems. Over in Latin America, a disconcerting new profession dubbed Mercenários Digitais (Digital Mercenaries) – is emerging where politicians profit from disinformation, manipulating public opinion.
In India, a BBC investigation revealed a harrowing crackdown on Kashmiri journalists. Fear, arrests, and self-censorship have stifled journalism, making it more like a government PR tool.
Gabon is facing condemnation for cutting off the internet during elections and censoring foreign reporters, echoing Zimbabwe's actions in censoring foreign reporters.
It’s always useful to remember that media and community mobilization play a vital role in documenting, reporting, and exposing these issues. This collective task is more critical than ever.
Also, take a look at the Townsquare section where we share opportunities and events.
If there are updates you would like us to share from your country or region, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
The Check Global Report
By Meedan’s Check Global team in Beirut, Kochi, Bhimtal, Nairobi, and Porto Alegre
Queer communities in the MENA region face digital persecution (Tahrir Institute)
In a recent report, the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy highlighted the need to do more to address digital spaces that are increasingly compromised through surveillance, entrapment, blackmail, and persecution.
Tech companies have yet to find an effective plan to tackle digital violence against their users in the MENA region. These companies, most of which are based in the U.S., often boast about their global commitment to LGBTQ+ rights. Still, given their track record in the region, this commitment seems to have been neglected in favor of economic gains.
Many journalists in the region are living in fear of reprisals from both the state and militant groups. The case of Asif Sultan, a journalist who was arrested and charged with aiding militancy in the region is emblematic of the broader crackdown on press freedom in Kashmir, where journalists face intimidation, arrests, and threats for reporting on sensitive issues.
“We feel choked and suffocated. All of us are self-censoring. I read my report once as a journalist, then I read it like a policeman would, and I start deleting things and watering it down. There's hardly any journalism being done, it's mostly just PR for the government." — Statement by an anonymous journalist.
Investigation uncovers a new profession of “Digital Mercenaries” profiting from disinformation in Latin America (Publica)
Published in Brazil by Agência Pública and UOL last week, the investigative reports reveal that the propagation of fake news knows no national boundaries and has become a lucrative model for politicians across the continent.
“Mercenários Digitais" is the name chosen by 22 newsrooms in Latin America for a new profession born in the era of digital politics and the platformized internet. For over six months, dozens of journalists from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Bolivia, Venezuela, Peru, Honduras, and Nicaragua set aside fact-checking the lies used to manipulate public opinion to uncover who the propagandists are and the companies that profit from disinformation.
Gabon condemned for cutting off the internet during elections and censoring foreign reporters (Reporters Without Borders)
The Gabonese government’s refusal to grant foreign reports accreditation echoes similar directives issued in the Zimbabwe elections held recently.
“It is totally anachronistic to deprive foreign media of the possibility of covering such an important moment in a country’s democratic life, when the need for diverse reporting is crucial for the population. We condemn this unacceptable decision to close off the country and call on the Gabonese authorities to end it without delay." —Sadibou Marong - director of RSF’s sub-Saharan Africa bureau.
A team of seven Egyptian journalism students recently published a report concluding that the sudden increase in climate news coverage due to COP27, coupled with a lack of editorial standards and expertise in climate issues, led to an increase in misinformation in Egypt.
The training and research program is part of NAWA Media Newsroom, Meedan’s open-access platform aimed at media activists, online verification enthusiasts, media professionals and journalism students in North Africa and Western Asia.
The students found that the misinformation included political propaganda, highlighting alleged government achievements and policies such as solar power projects in rural areas of Egypt attracting international investors.
September 15, 2023
AJIC (African Investigative Journalism Conference) in partnership with ABSA announced the African Investigative Journalist of the Year Award recognizing outstanding examples of investigative reporting from Africa.
September 29, 2023
OCCRP is looking for 6-8 fellows to join their Research & Data Fellowship Program in partnership with Opening Extractives.
What else we’re reading
Not Real Doctors: AI Docs Peddling ChatBot Advice As Home Remedies. From tips on how to get white teeth to preventing conjunctivitis - welcome to the new social media phenomenon of AI doctors. (Boom Live)
Hackers Paradise: Why Latin America is so venerable. AQ’s new special report sets out what’s at risk—and what can be done. (Americas Quarterly)
European Union's Digital Services Act (DSA) is imposing new rules on content moderation. (Reuters)
The Checklist is currently read by over 1700 subscribers. Want to share the Checklist? Invite your friends to sign up here.