A communications blackout plunged millions of Gazans, including civilians, journalists, paramedic teams and aid agencies in an information vacuum from October 27 to midday October 29, when connectivity was partially restored. Today, we stand in a moment fraught with the gravest of risks for further human rights violations and tragedy. As we confront this unprecedented crisis, the call for immediate, community-driven, collective action takes on an urgency like never before. The imperative to rally for human rights, transparency, and accountability cannot be overstated as we grapple with this critical juncture.
The toll of the diminished electricity and internet supply in Gaza, coupled with the suppression of witness accounts in both Gaza and the West Bank as a result of content takedowns and biased content moderation is leading to a significant and alarming blind spot in the availability of reliable information from inside the war zones. There hasn’t been a more urgent time for civil society to come together to counter the spiraling effects of mis/disinformation, and strengthen our collective ability to document, debunk, archive, preserve online content, and build preparedness to deal with the war-induced vicarious trauma on our respective communities.
In an attempt to make a contribution in this direction, we started a coordinated effort across our three organizations - SMEX, Meedan and WITNESS - to develop an open-access suite of resources that could be useful for individuals and groups involved in archiving, OSINT, fact-checking and documentation efforts as part of the ongoing war.
Published under a ‘No Rights Reserved’ CC0 license, these resources cover a wide range of topics including, for example,
- Tips for Filming Human Rights Abuses in Palestine
- Tips for Fact-Checkers: Open-Source Investigation
- Why Do We Preserve Online Content During the War
- Collecting and Archiving Videos During the War: A Guide
- Dealing with Shocking and Violent Images During War and Catastrophes
- Tips for Safe Online Communication and Phone Battery Efficiency During the War, Among Many Others.
The resources are currently available in Arabic and English. Some have also been translated into Portuguese, Spanish and Hindi. This work is ongoing, and we will be working on more topics and adding further localizations over the next few days.
We invite you all to join this collective action through using, remixing and sharing these resources. If you would like to join our coalition, and/or contribute to content creation and localizations please get in touch. Please do also share with us any skills or issue gaps you believe are most important to ground future resources over the coming weeks.
- Online conversations are heavily influenced by news coverage, like the 2022 Supreme Court decision on abortion. The relationship is less clear between big breaking news and specific increases in online misinformation.
- The tweets analyzed were a random sample qualitatively coded as “misinformation” or “not misinformation” by two qualitative coders trained in public health and internet studies.
- This method used Twitter’s historical search API
- The peak was a significant outlier compared to days before it using Grubbs' test for outliers for Chemical Abortion (p<0.2 for the decision; p<0.003 for the leak) and Herbal Abortion (p<0.001 for the decision and leak).
- All our searches were case insensitive and could match substrings; so, “revers” matches “reverse”, “reversal”, etc.