Meedan is currently supporting 25 partners in 22 countries within its Check Global Program, including grassroot organizations and independent media and activist collectives that have all been working at the forefront of the fight for freedom, social justice and equality, and for a better and more equitable Internet in some of the most fraught contexts of the world.
Together, we identified five global challenges - access to information, democracy at risk, big tech and media freedom, gender equality and inequalities, and misinformation, and have been working with our partners in the four regions to tackle them. Here is how the different regional interventions map against the global challenges we had set out to address.
“Our role is to support our partners through developing the open-access tech tools they need to achieve their goals, using our programmatic knowledge and expertise to help them develop impactful yet achievable programs, building around them supportive networks which they can learn from, and with which they can grow and prosper, and investing in research so we all are up-to-speed with the ever changing trends which govern the relations between tech and our societies,” explains Dr. Dima Saber, Program and Impact Director at Meedan.
Access to information
Partners in North-Africa Western-Asia (NAWA)and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) produced in-depth, critical reports, tackling issues such as land-theft by authorities, and discrimination and violence against minority communities. One partner was enabled to focus on quality investigations, resulting in their ‘most read’ work of 2022; this was recognized by their audience, but also credited with awards by journalism platforms. In some of these partnerships, journalists were supported through internships and training sessions on new skills such as data reporting.
In the Latin America and The Caribbean (LAC) region, access to information was provided through a new platform delivering journalism and media literacy training for hyperlocal correspondents and media activists, with a goal of eventually targeting multilingual news deserts. The themed training sessions supported college students and graduates in their professional development and networks.
Gender equality and inequalities
Many of our partners specifically address gender imbalances when designing their training activities and recruiting participants. SSA and NAWA partner workshops trained women to document human rights violations and gender violence in their communities, as well as offering other support, led by professionals from a range of disciplines. Differing in approach, one of our LAC partners created a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on journalism, project management and communication, aiming to register women and people from vulnerable minorities to use the resource.
Partners were also supported in creating content such as podcasts to address gender inequalities, such as our Asia-Pacific (APAC) and SSA partners exploring how women are trying to make a space for themselves in politics in those regions. Another partner investigated the intersections of beauty and technology, and the influencer culture on social media, resulting in successful articles, surveys, and digital campaigns to highlight gender biases and health impacts.
Some of these activities focused on researching and documenting experiences of women. In the APAC region, one partner is conducting interviews with local women political leaders, to better understand the challenges and ultimately encourage more participation. Another partner in SSA is instead focusing on online violence against women, addressing concerns of media independence, responsible journalism, and freedom of expression.
Our partners combat misinformation through fact-checking work. SSA partners produced fact-checking reports and investigated the sources and trends of misinformation in their own country, but one also collaborated with international networks to address global crises and resulting misinformation. One of our LAC partners experimented with new multimedia methods of reporting their fact checks of environmental and political misinformation.
Specific technologies such as public tiplines helped to counter misinformation, as powered by Check, and then deployed by one of our APAC partners; migrant workers were thus enabled to access verified news from their home countries during elections. Meedan’s Product Team similarly supported a NAWA partner in creating a Facebook messenger tipline to serve their followers. Another innovative approach from APAC involved creation of a comic book on health misinformation.
Some partners addressed misinformation through training interventions. In the NAWA region, journalism students developed their media monitoring expertise by focusing on the theme of climate misinformation, with their report due in 2023. Another partner in SSA established an internship program, resulting in the participants’ ongoing commitment to work with the partner on monthly trend analyses and weekly recaps of dis/misinformation.
Democracy at risk
Many of our partners are concerned by the threat to democracy during elections. APAC partners provided fact-checking platforms and tiplines to inform migrants while they were away from their home countries during elections. SSA partners addressed elections and related misinformation through online journalism training in a dozen African countries in the lead up to elections; roving newsrooms used to monitor and live blog from polling centers; use of platforms to stream council meetings and hold authorities to account; post-election workshops, including anti-bias training.
Journalism was also protected through research, training, and development of toolkits. Two APAC partners promoted safe online practices by equipping activists and journalists with digital security measures. Another partner in the LAC region delivered workshops, communications, and legal advice to address the risks of cyber patrolling during protests and enable activists and journalists to exercise their rights in an increasingly monitored environment. Two of our partners in the NAWA region addressed human rights concerns through workshops and activities at events.
Big tech and media freedom
North-Africa Western-Asia partners focused on documenting and archiving violence against protesters and human rights violations during conflicts. This was achieved through training and use of open-source tools to monitor, collect, verify, and annotate archive material, which then resulted in investigative reports. Another partner assisted the work by creating a model for region-wide collaborations between archivists, journalists, and technologists, applying new assistive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and computer vision.
One of our LAC partners applied Freedom of Information requests to address their concerns regarding the potential harms of governments using AI systems. This helped the partner improve their critical analysis of the use of these technologies in public policy, for example, in surveillance of low-income people and reinforcement of structural racism and gender discrimination.