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Are you a fact-checking organization, newsroom, or individual looking to increase engagement with your audience through direct messaging networks like WhatsApp, Messenger, Viber, or other apps?
If so, it’s not too late to sign up for Meedan’s Audience Development Summer Incubator, beginning Friday, June 30.
We are bringing together folks working on audience engagement seeking to grow their newsroom, fact-checking and community information audiences through messaging platforms.
In this summer program, information leaders will meet monthly in expert-facilitated sessions to develop strategies for engaging with different communities via messaging networks.
Please email email@example.com to sign up or with any questions. We hope to see you on June 30th!
In this issue of The Checklist, we take a look at how social media platforms have been making concessions to governments by censoring free speech and allowing those seen as threats by the government to be forced off the platform. According to a report by The Washington Post, Meta in Vietnam is stifling free speech by making responding to requests from Vietnam’s authoritarian government to not allow any criticism of their members online. In India, Twitter was asked to censor journalists critical of the government, according to Jack Dorsey, former CEO.
Also, take a look at the Townsquare section where we share more details about our participation in GlobalFact10, including sessions led by Meedan’s Director of Research Dr. Scott Hale and Director of Product Pierre Conti who will share their expertise and insights at this year’s GlobalFact hybrid conference.
If there are updates you would like us to share from your country or region, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Check Global Report
By Meedan’s Check Global team in Beirut, Bhimtal, Kochi, and Porto Alegre
Facebook helped bring free speech to Vietnam. Now it’s helping stifle it (Washington Post)
Although governments around the world can ask Facebook to take down content, the concessions that Meta has made to preserve its access in Vietnam — the world’s 15th-most-populous country — go well beyond those it has made anywhere else in East Asia, according to consultants and former employees. The social media giant Meta, which owns Facebook, has been making repeated concessions to Vietnam’s authoritarian government, routinely censoring dissent and allowing those seen as threats by the government to be forced off the platform.
Meta has adopted an internal list of Vietnamese Communist Party officials who should not be criticized on Facebook, said two former employees in Asia, who, like the others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid retribution. This list, which is kept private even within the company and has not been publicly reported on before, is included in guidelines used in controlling online content and was shaped in large part by Vietnamese authorities, the former employees said.
In an interview with a US-based YouTube channel, Mr. Dorsey said India requested the removal of several tweets and accounts linked to the farmers' protest in 2020. Twitter was also asked to censor journalists critical of the government, he alleged. India has denied the allegations and accused Twitter of violating laws.
"India, for example, was a country that had many requests around the farmers' protests, around particular journalists that were critical of the government...It manifested in ways such as: 'we will shut Twitter down in India' - which is a very large market for us; 'we will raid the homes of your employees,' which they did; 'we will shut down your offices if you don't follow suit.' And this is India, a democratic country." — Jack Dorsey, Former Twitter CEO
The violent power struggle between Sudan's army and the Rapid Support Forces has created a dangerous environment for journalists, forcing most to either stop working or flee the country. Dozens of violations against journalists and media organisations have been documented, forcing most media outlets to stop working, according to press freedom organisations in Sudan and abroad.
“The suffering for Sudanese journalists in Khartoum is twofold. First, they live like other civilians in the midst of the fighting, the war deprived them of basic services, and they [suffer] the looting of their homes.” — Abdelmonim Abu Idris, head of the Sudanese Syndicate of Journalists
African podcasts are receiving widespread acclaim, too. Whether it’s “I said what I said,” which discusses the millennial African experience, or Sincerely Accra, which covers urban life in Ghana’s capital, they are drawing in audiences not just from African countries but also internationally.
One initiative has been especially instrumental in putting African podcasters on the map: Afripods, a free podcast hosting platform based in Nairobi, Kenya. Founded in 2017, Afripods has grown into a central hub where podcasters and listeners can access a wide selection of pan-African content. Categories range from comedy to true crime and podcasts are available in up to 50 languages, including Xhosa, Kikuyu and Yoruba.
“I believe as podcasting research becomes available in more regions and the ecosystem grows, we will learn more about how podcasting has developed in other countries.” — Molly Jensen, CEO of Afripods
Reuters Institute reports Mexicans’ trust in news media declining (Mexico News Daily)
President López Obrador’s frequent verbal attacks on the press could be a factor in a marked decline in trust in the news among Mexicans, according to a U.K.-based research center and think tank. In its 2023 Digital News Report, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism said that trust in the news has declined to 36% in Mexico from 50% in 2019, the president’s first full year in office
“Human rights organisation Article 19 says that the Mexican government has developed a ‘strategy of disinformation’ while claiming to have created greater transparency and accountability,” — From the Reuters Institute report
World Press Freedom Day: Meedan Partners Share Their Stories
Meedan partners spoke about advances made and challenges faced by independent media organizations working to safeguard freedom of expression, and how a free and independent media contributes to the advancement of other rights and freedoms.
The theme for the 2023 World Press Freedom Day was “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights,” signifying the enabling element of freedom of expression to enjoy and protect all other human rights.
For the occasion, Meedan hosted a Twitter Spaces with partner organizations focusing on making information accessible.
Meedan speaks at GlobalFact 2023: We are organizing three sessions to share with newsrooms, fact-checkers and media experts insights from our recent work.
June 29: Fact-checking on messaging services: Brazilian coalition work and learnings during the 2022 national election
June 30: Fact-checking in the era of generative AI: Risks and opportunities
June 30: Context marketplace – Emerging revenue models for fact-checkers
To add these sessions to your calendar, check out the GlobalFact 10 Agenda.
What else we’re reading
'Not based on science': US confronts abortion 'reversal' myths
DW explores 'Zan Times' – a women-led, investigative newsroom born in August 2022, which aims to cover human rights violations in Afghanistan.
Nobel laureate Maria Ressa says research by Oxford institute can be used against reporters
Indigenous groups are developing data storage technology that gives users privacy and control. Could their work influence those fighting back against invasive apps?
Thousands of Reddit communities go dark to protest the company’s controversial new policy
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