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Propaganda, disinformation to silence journalists and manipulate the public
And, Meedan joins a Partnership on AI steering committee
We hope you’re staying safe and healthy.
In this week’s edition we share updates on propaganda, repressions, manipulation of public opinion and disinformation threatening press freedom and democracy in the Larger World. In Egypt, the government wants to send out a message that no journalist is safe in the country. In India, a political leader blames AI for an embarrassing video of his and claims it to be false. In China, a newly launched online service to train journalists has become a tool for government propaganda and a way to test loyalty to the government. In Guatemala, a report by International Republican Institute, points to disinformation and hate in the online information space contributing to election-related violence.
We are excited to share that Meedan has been invited by Partnership on AI (PAI) to join its AI and Media Integrity Steering Committee.
Also, take a look at the Townsquare section where we share opportunities and events and interesting reads from the Check Global team.
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, Kochi, Bhimtal, and Porto Alegre
Ten years of power for Sisi: Egypt has become one of the world’s biggest jailers of journalists (Reporters Sans Frontières)
As President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi prepares to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his arrival to power, Reporters Without Borders looks back at the relentless methods he has used to reshape the Egyptian media landscape in the past decade and turn Egypt into one of the world’s most oppressive countries for journalists.
"It was politically convenient to arrest Al Jazeera journalists, but the authorities also wanted to make the point that no journalists were safe, whether they were local or foreigners." — Peter Greste, an Australian journalist who was Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Cairo
Deepfake experts told Rest of World the rise of AI is being used as a ruse to sow information uncertainty in a new political era. On the one hand, they said, generative AI has the potential to tarnish reputations and manipulate public opinion, but on the other, the technology could be a way to evade accountability by dismissing any incriminating evidence as fake.
“We are seeing more generative AI/deepfake/synthetic media content, as well as more claims of fake when not…. This idea of the “liar’s dividend” has put tremendous pressure on journalists and fact-checkers, who now have to be selective about which story they want to chase down and verify.” — Sam Gregory, executive director at the nonprofit Witness.
Reporters Without Borders alerts on a new threat to press freedom in China: a new smartphone service designed to "train" and even evaluate journalists on the regime's propaganda as well as to "help" them pass the test of loyalty to Chinese leader Xi Jinping has just been launched.
“Over the past decade, the Chinese regime has been conducting a true crusade against press freedom and the right to information, and this new smartphone service is yet another tool to brainwash and compel journalists to conform with state narratives. The international community should build up pressure on the Chinese regime to deter it from continuing its repressive policies and restore press freedom as enshrined in the country's constitution." — Cédric Alviani, Reporters Without Borders East Asia Bureau Director
Guatemala 2023 Elections: A Risk Assessment on the Online Information Space (International Republican Institute)
This assessment reveals multiple vulnerabilities jeopardizing the elections in Guatemala (June 2023). The identified vulnerabilities encompass social media companies' silence on the elections, inconsistent respect for freedom of expression and press by the government, targeting of independent media and journalists, and the longstanding issue of election-related violence. These risks pose a significant threat to the democratic process, underscoring the importance of vigilance and collective efforts to ensure a free and fair election.
"Election-related violence has long been an issue in Guatemala."(...) "Online narratives before the official start focused on discrediting competition, making criminal accusations, and spreading disinformation. For the next two months, disinformation trends are expected to continue, especially targeted attacks on journalists, human rights defenders, women, LGBTQI+ individuals, and indigenous communities."
Meedan has been invited by Partnership on AI (PAI) to join its AI and Media Integrity Steering Committee, a group of institutions that meets every two weeks to advise and collaborate on projects related to the intersection of AI, digital media, and online information. The AI and Media Integrity Steering Committee is focused on projects confronting the emergent threat of AI-generated mis/disinformation, synthetic media, and AI’s effects on public discourse.
“We are looking forward to not only providing our input and insight as a technology not-for-profit working towards building a more equitable Internet, but on sharing our use cases for the development of PAI’s guidance materials.” — Ed Bice, CEO, Meedan
July 31, 2023
Women’s Fund Asia’s Strengthening Feminist Movement (SFM) 2023 - 24 is open now. The program supports women, girls, trans, and intersex rights activists, groups, and networks, working at the local, subnational, and national levels in countries in Asia.
September 19-22, 2023
You can now register for the Global Investigative Journalism Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden.
October 25-28, 2023
Global Peace Chain has opened applications for Global Peace Summit New York 2023 The span of the Global Peace Summit New York 2023 is 4 days and will be held in New York from Oct 25-28, 2023. Candidates from any part of the world can apply for this fully-funded gathering in New York.
March 1 - May 24, 2024
Do you have great ideas about how to promote democracy in your community? Apply for the Hurford Youth Fellowship! The last day to submit applications is July 31, 2023.
What else we’re reading
Hindrances to funding for LGBTQ+ movements in South Asia (Global Voices)
Meedan Independent Media Response Fund recipient Annie Lab’s special report on narratives that drive climate misinformation in China.
Purple Romero’s Op-ed on how nationalism drives climate misinformation in China (AlJazeera)
Insights from WikiCred conference on the weaponization of open source in Nigeria