Political battles on TikTok, crackdown on dissent & internet shutdowns
Also, look out for Meedan's Twitter conversation on May 3, World Press Freedom Day
We hope you’ve had a great week.
In this edition, we look at how TikTok has become a battleground for political propaganda in the Philippines, the Guinea-Bissau's government’s crackdown on radio stations, arrest of TikTokers in Egypt for speaking against rising food prices and Rest of World’s coverage of internet shutdowns in different parts of the world
On May 3, World Press Freedom day, Meedan’s Shalini Joshi will lead a discussion on why journalists are under surveillance worldwide and how leaders from India and Kenya are leading the effort to protect our people and our stories. Join us on Twitter Spaces at 8:30am PT as we observe this day and identify solutions to the challenges faced by journalists in different regions.
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.
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The latest top stories
TikTok as poll battlefield: Lies spreading unchecked (Inquirer.net)
In the Philippines, the presidential aspirants and their supporters have been using TikTok heavily to package their platforms, personalities and idiosyncrasies into bite-sized, shareable videos, while also putting down their rivals.
These days, three-minute TikTok videos, savvily edited and layered with catchy tunes, could make or break a candidate’s narrative and branding — or even invent new “truths.”
The most-watched TikTok videos of Marcos are those that dramatize his relationship with his late father, the ousted dictator. One video that raked in 14 million views as of April 26 showed the former senator touching a bust of his father held up by a supporter in the crowd during one of his motorcades.Such TikToks, which make no explicit claims, aim to “dramatize or heighten emotional effect among the viewers,” according to Celine Samson, head of the online verification team of Vera files.
“It can be so compelling that it has the chance of making other disinformation more believable,” she said.
Guinea-Bissau's government has closed 79 radio stations following the expiry of a 72-hour deadline to pay license fees. Radio stations operating in the country have to pay about $427 annually to operate or risk being closed, but only nine stations were able to comply. Those continuing to broadcast without a valid license face up to three years in prison.
"The closing of the radio stations means that we have suffered another defeat in the fight for press freedom, after several armed attacks on stations critical of the government in the past. Maybe [the government] wants to withhold information from society. When there is no information, there is disinformation, and the consequences are very devastating" - Diamantino Domingos Lopes, general secretary of the Union of Journalists and Media Technicians
Egyptian authorities have arrested three TikTok users for making satirical videos criticising the country’s rising food prices, Egyptian news outlet Al Manassa reported.
The tiktokers reportedly face charges of spreading fake news, and the prosecution has since ordered their pretrial detention.
How internet blackouts stifled Kashmir’s digital economy (Rest of World)
The Indian government is a world leader in shutting down the internet. Jammu and Kashmir has suffered more than most.
"The internet is as important to businesses as water is to life. By frequent internet shutdowns, the Indian government is “depriving a whole generation from doing business." -- Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad, president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI)
Seven years, 60 countries, 935 internet shutdowns: How authoritarian regimes found an off switch for dissent.
Over the last six months, Rest of World spoke to more than 70 technologists, telecomms experts, activists, and journalists from around the world to track how governments’ control over the internet has grown and evolved during the past decade. Their testimony shows that the free, open, global internet is under severe threat. Telecomms blackouts and mass censorship risk fragmenting the internet and even undermining its physical integrity. These threats come in many forms, but most of the experts we spoke to trace them back to a watershed moment, 11 years ago in Cairo, when, facing a mass protest movement that was evolving and growing online, the Egyptian government turned off the internet.
What’s new at Meedan
On May 3, World Press Freedom day, join Meedan’s Shalini Joshi and Eric Mugendi in a conversation with journalists from India and Kenya on the digital era’s impact on freedom of expression and safety of journalists.
When? : May 3 (8:30 AM PT/11:30 AM ET/9 PM IST)
Where? : Twitter Spaces (https://twitter.com/i/spaces/1yNxaYkZDOlxj)