Platforms, Elections and Content Moderation
and a promise tracker hopes to ensure accountability in Zimbabwe
We hope you’re staying safe and healthy.
In this edition, we bring you updates from all around the world, including reports showing how platforms are profiting from misinformation during elections and live-streamed content that doesn’t follow their community guidelines, leaving little to no benefit for citizens.
In our Q&A section, We ask CITE, an independent media platform in Zimbabwe, about their Promise Tracker and how they covered election campaigns.
We are also happy to announce that journalism students from North Africa and Western Asia have recently completed the main phase of the NAWA newsroom training program. During the 4-month online training program, the students learned and shared knowledge about the media ecosystem in their countries, and explored trends in disinformation, open-source verification tools and media monitoring. You can learn more about the project here.
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.
Q&A with CITE, creators of Zimbabwe’s Promise Tracker
The Center for Innovation and Technology (CITE) is a civic tech hub, open community space and incubator based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city. CITE has been a Check Global partner since 2019, and their work spans several fields, including journalism training, fact-checking, investigative reporting, and most recently, keeping track of the promises made by Zimbabwean politicians ahead of elections in 2023 with support from Meedan.
How useful do you think a promise tracker is in terms of ensuring accountability? How important is this ahead of elections in 2023?
CITE: The promise tracker ensures accountability in the sense that it allows citizens in any constituency or local council ward to monitor the performance of their local council or elected member of Parliament on issues that matter the most to them. In the Upcoming 2023 elections, the promise tracker tool will play an important role when fact-checking and holding those in power accountable. People vote for a candidate based on their capacity to implement the promises they make during their campaign. With the Promise Tracker tool, our hope is to provide citizens with the capacity to monitor and hold elected officials accountable for the promises they made during the 2018 campaign trail and highlight what they managed to accomplish while in office.
The Check Global Report
By Meedan’s Check Global team in Beirut, Belo Horizonte, Kochi, Bhimtal, and Nairobi
Facebook and YouTube profit from ads that attack electronic voting machines and democracy (The Intercept Brasil)
The second part of a report by the NGO SumOfUs exposes how the ecosystem designed on these platforms undermines the electoral process. YouTube and Facebook continue to allow the publication of undemocratic and disinformation content, often benefiting Jair Bolsonaro's re-election campaign.
“This is the last chance for Meta and Google. They still have time to mitigate some of the damage done if they act with the necessary urgency and focus,” the study concludes.
TikTok profits from livestreams of families begging (BBC)
A recent BBC investigation has found that displaced families in Syrian camps are begging for donations on TikTok while the company takes up to 70% of the proceeds. The BBC saw streams earning up to $1,000 an hour, but found the people in the camps received only a tiny fraction of that.
These livestreams run contrary to TikTok's own policies to prevent the harm, endangerment or exploitation of minors on the platform. —Marwa Fatafta, Access Now
The Wire vs. Meta: How reporting on Instagram moderation in India led to a very public fight (Rest of World)
Following a week of confusion and controversy around a series of stories on Meta published by The Wire, the India-based independent news site said it would review its coverage, including the documents, sources, and source materials used to build the stories that have become the central subject of tension.
The stories in question, which have now been withdrawn by The Wire until a review is completed, alleged that Meta gave Amit Malviya, the social media head of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), sweeping powers to take down Instagram posts they didn’t like. Meta and its officials immediately went public, not only dismissing the claims but also saying the documents used by the publication had been fabricated.
While it is legitimate for us to be held accountable for our content decisions, the allegations made by The Wire are false. They contain mischaracterizations of how our enforcement processes work, and rely on what we believe to be fabricated evidence in their reporting.” — Andy Stone, head of communications at Meta
"India deserves better and healthier reporting that can hold the important – incl. the government – accountable" — Sophie Zhang, a former data scientist at Facebook
Meedan's Co·Insights wins $5m from the National Science Foundation
Co·Insights seeks to empower local communities to identify and mitigate the most pernicious misinformation online. In line with Meedan’s vision statement, we seek a world in which all people regardless of their languages, locations, and incomes have the ability to effectively locate the most relevant and pertinent information, evaluate the quality of that information, and make the decisions they want.
Funded with $5 million from the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator, Co·Insights aim to make that vision a reality. In close partnership with Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities in the United States, Co·Insights team is building the knowledge, collaborations, and software needed to empower community leaders to effectively identify and counter misinformation online.
Call for Submission for the True Story Award 2023: True Story Award is now accepting entries in 10 languages for stories from around the world that illuminate global events from a variety of perspectives. You can learn more about the award here.
#MEDIAFEST22: MediaFest22 brings together professional journalists, student journalists and college media advisers to Washingron D.C. . You can find more details about the conference here.
Modern Slavery Unveiled: In-situ Training in Manila: Journalismfund.eu joins forces with Journalism for Nation Building Foundation (JNBF) and Rappler to invite Southeast Asian journalists and civil society organisations to a 5-day training programme on modern slavery reportage.
What else we’re reading/listening to
Meta is ending support for Instant Articles. Instant Articles is a mobile format launched by Facebook in 2015 to quickly load news articles on the Facebook app. Earlier this year, Axios reported that META was cutting funding for U.S. news publishers. (Axios)
We Were Three: This podcast mini-series dives into how COVID misinformation changed the lives of one family forever (The New York Times)
‘Democracy on the line’: CJR asks Patrícia Campos Mello, a reporter-at-large and columnist at Folha de São Paulo newspaper and Tow research fellow, about Brazil’s election and the Bolsonaro disinformation ecosystem (Columbia Journalism Review)
Social media loses ground on abortion misinformation: Our own Jenna Sherman comments on how Big Tech platforms respond to false narratives about abortion. (Axios)
China’s WeChat Is a Hot New Venue for US Election Misinformation: Ahead of US midterms, activists are fighting falsehoods circulating in Chinese-language communities that they fear will distort the vote or suppress turnout. (Wired)
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