PeaceTech Lab In The Media
UNMISS | UN MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN
A team of researchers from the PeaceTech Lab Africa, created by the United States institute of Peace – USIP, are undertaking research into the impact of online hate speech and how social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube have been used to generate and incite hatred.
The research stems from concerns that “countries with rapidly expanding Internet access, such as South Sudan, are also experiencing the spread of online rumors, misinformation, and targeted attacks to exploit political or ethnic differences,” says Theo Dolan, the Director of Peace Tech Lab Africa.
“A lot of online hate speech disseminated by the diaspora communities through platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and whatsapp, is captured by the social media users”.
Speaking to Radio Miraya Breakfast show, Dolan stressed that online hate speech spread through personal and family networks, and it spreads fast – information can flow very quickly from a diaspora community in Australia to the US and back to South Sudan.
A lexicon is being generated from this research, and Dolan hopes it will serve as a useful resource for people and organizations involved in monitoring and countering hate speech.
“With more contexts around why these terms are inflammatory, people will have a better idea of how to combat the problem’, Dolan believes.
“The resulting hate speech lexicon will be plugged into software tools to map online influencers and track the historic uses of key inflammatory terms,” Dolan explained.
THE WASHINGTON POST
Egypt’s 2011 uprising has become synonymous with the successful use of social media to overthrow an entrenched authoritarian regime. Popular and academic literature hold it up as the paradigm of social media’s effects on contentious politics. Activists from Bahrain and Turkey to Ukraine and St. Louis learned and applied Egyptian protest tactics such as setting up encampments in public space, preparing ways to resist police attacks, organizing protest locations and times on Facebook groups, and rapidly disseminating videos and images of protests to mass media.
But it is equally significant that Egypt’s attempted transition to democracy after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak ended in violent political polarization and a military coup. Did social media also contribute to the failure of democratic consolidation? What does this mean for future attempts at democratic transition, given that they will probably unfold in heavily socially mediated societies, too? In a new report in the Blogs and Bullets series for PeaceTech Lab, we use unique Twitter and Facebook data to explore how social media contributed to the spread of polarization and fear in Egypt that undermined its transition.
Washington, DC – The PeaceTech Lab and Nigeria-based Channels TV have agreed to pursue joint initiatives using media in combination with data and technology to foster long-term peace and prosperity in northern Nigeria and the surrounding region. The agreement’s implementation will begin immediately with the joint development of Nigeria’s first, independent Hausa-language television news network to serve northern Nigeria.
“The PeaceTech Lab and Channels TV believe media can prompt and accelerate peacebuilding in an environment of intensified terrorist activity carried out by extremists who threaten Nigeria’s political stability and social compact with the Nigerian people,” said Sheldon Himelfarb, CEO of PeaceTech Lab. “The Lab welcomes Channels as a partner in our expanding media practice.”
John Momoh, founder and CEO of Channels TV, added, “Channels is very pleased to be associated with the PeaceTech Lab. We value its commitment and sophisticated approach to conflict resolution. We also welcome its development support as we seek to make our new Hausa service a sustainable business.”
It's official: Twitter is lifesaving.
A new study in the journal Science Advances, finds that social media can provide a potential path to safety and security during a crisis. Researchers looking back at Hurricane Sandy of 2012 detail how 52 million geographically pinpointed tweets gathered from before, during and after the hurricane offered data on where the weather event ultimately caused the most damage. Big data was useful for scientists in figuring out that the areas that experienced the most notable spike in Twitter activity were associated with areas where residents filed the most insurance claims and received the most individual assistance from Federal Emergency Management Agency grants. Crunching numbers was made exponentially faster and easier by technology.
Social media and information technology are taking up vital positions in the tool box of preventive actions and post-crisis response approaches in all kinds of events, domestically, and overseas. During earthquakes, from Haiti to South Asia, social media has helped track down victims and locate survivors under deep rubble. Predictive analysis is also being used to determine where fault lines exist as well as weather patterns. Twitter and Facebook are using emergency alerts to warn citizens and connect those in need of assistance when danger strikes.
Imagine refugees stranded along dangerous routes in and out of countries. They rely on mobile phone, and increasingly social media, to get life-saving information on where it is safe to travel.
Victims of domestic violence are able to utilize apps and other technologies to report abuse without having to show up at a police station or clinic.
And those who live and work in isolated parts of the world, particularly in the agricultural sector, are using social media to glean insights into everything from climate to costs for products and services.
Health care is increasingly improved by access to pharmaceutical information online.
We often wring our hands at the intrusion of social media into our lives. But for those impacted by natural disasters, conflict, or crisis, that iPad, or keypad, cell phone or mobile app may become opportunities not disadvantages.
So celebrate technology. It may just save your life.
Tara Sonenshine is former under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. She serves on the board of directors of Peace Tech Lab which uses technology to prevent and respond to global conflict.
All they are saying is give peace tech a chance
As I learned at a conference on scaling peace technology at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC last month, the romantic notion that we can build a better world through data isn't over, after all.
Researchers hope that new technologies can detect the signs of conflicts earlier than ever before, but governments and non-governmental organizations are still figuring out how to move from theory to practice.
While our relationship to data has become more complicated since big data became a buzzword at the end of the last decade, hope endures that the wonders of our technology-infused age can be used to give policy makers more insight into the future and evidence to act in the present. Some government-funded researchsuggests that Twitter data can be used to predict when protests will erupt.
In the IT practice at CEB, we talk a great deal about how technology is changing the business environment: timelines are faster, available information is exponentially greater, and opportunities to connect and collaborate abound. But this phenomenon is not limited to the business world; technology has greatly changed how conflicts are waged, studied, and—most importantly—resolved or prevented.
An exciting organization working in this space of conflict resolution and technology is PeaceTech Lab, an off-shoot of the US Institute of Peace. PeaceTech Lab’s stated mission is to work at the intersection of technology, media, and data to help reduce violent conflict around the world. It’s a relatively new organization experiencing rapid growth. So when it approached CEB about partnering to scale its impact, CEB in the Community got right to work setting up the best pro bono project to align PeaceTech’s needs with CEB’s strengths.
This week, NDI launched its new Arabic-language e-learning and training platformTaalamSharek.org, or“learn-engage” in English. Redesigned with support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), this platform, which is also designed to be used on mobile phones, represents a new era in online engagement with and among democracy advocates in the Middle East and North Africa. The platform allows citizens to build their civic and political skills on topics such as campaign planning, elections, citizen participation, governance, and political party development.
Can Your Playstation Stop A War?
Video games are being used for everything from helping find cures for HIV to losing weight. It's time to start using them to make peace.
Whether it is Hezbollah creating games to allow players to digitally participate in the 2006 war with Israel, Islamic State supporters modifying Grand Theft Auto, or even the U.S. military recruiting youth with America’s Army, games are already being employed to allow their audience to participate in a conflict. And if they can be harnessed to serve war, games should and must be used to power peace.
Big data's big role in humanitarian aid
Mission-based organizations, including those helping the recent wave of Syrian refugees, are using big data to improve their response efforts. "Big data can be used to identify patterns and signatures associated with conflict — and those associated with peace — presenting huge opportunities for better-informed efforts to prevent violence and conflict."
Such work is still in the nascent stages, Noel Dickover says, but people are excited about its potential. "We have unprecedented amounts of data on human sentiment, and we know there's value there," he says. "The question is how to connect it."
Dickover is working on ways to do just that. One example is the Open Situation Room Exchange (OSRx) project, which aims to "empower greater collective impact in preventing or mitigating serious violent conflicts in particular arenas through collaboration and data-sharing."
Challenge contests and prize competitions lead to better, cheaper technology
At Thursday's PeaceTech Summit in Washington, D.C., Ann Mei Chang, the executive director of the U.S. Agency for International Development's Global Development Lab, and Jason Mathey, the director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, said federal challenges and prize competitions often unlock innovations that are rare in traditional federal contracting - and cheaper.
Can Tech And Data Science Prevent Violence In Conflict Zones?
Using the power of technology, media and data analysis to prevent tensions and conflicts in some of the world’s most violent areas from escalating: That’s the mission of PeaceTech Lab.
Spun off from the government-funded United States Institute of Peace in 2014, the nonprofit teams up with local social entrepreneurs, as well as engineers, academics and others, to produce everything from data maps depicting attacks on journalists to surveys of skincare epidemics in refugee camps.
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#PEACEHACKDC – BEHIND THE SCENES OF A HACKATHON FOR PEACE
For 36 hours, nearly 20 peacebuilding experts and technologists huddled around laptops in a rush to hammer out new games, applications and tech tools to counter violent extremism. Hosted by Creative Associates International in partnership with International Alert in Sept. 2015, #PeacehackDC joined a global #Peacehack effort to develop tech solutions to promote peace and mitigate violent conflict. Get an inside view of the process behind “hacking” for peace.
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The Little #Hashtag That Changed the World
You might not give much thought to the hashtag – that little # symbol you sprinkle between your daily tweets and online messages. But what started as a tool to classify topics and relevant conversations has now become a rallying cry for sociopolitical action.
“We look at the hashtag as kind of a symbol that lets people get behind it as opposed to just kind of throwing their opinions out there, and they’re part of a larger conversation,” said Tim Receveur, Director of PeaceTech Exchanges at the United States Institute of Peace. ” … There’s a symbol of empowerment around the hashtag”
Time to end the hate: Peace is trending
PeaceTech Labs and YaLa Young Leaders take to social media to promote peace in the younger generation and oppose online hate and incitement.
Dr. Sheldon Himelfarb, president of PeaceTech Labs, who has been following the situation in Israel closely, brings some truths to light. "Countering the social media messaging has come from both Israelis and Palestinians. And it can be impactful. We've seen good research that shows the power of swarming extremists online with counter messaging can help to drown out the extremists and cause them to cease and desist. I'm hoping we'll hear more from voices like the YaLa group of young Israeli and Palestinian leaders, who have found common ground before opposing violence, and who use social media very effectively to grow and connect with networks on both sides," Himelfarb says. "If there is a solution to reducing violence in Israel and around the world, technology plays a lead role. For every new violent extremist recruit swayed through social media, there is another digital citizen that could be using "peacetech" to counter violence."
#PeacehackDC generates new tech tools to counter violent extremism (Fall 2015)
For 36 hours, 20 peacebuilding experts and technologists huddled around laptops in a rush to hammer out new games, applications and tech tools to counter violent extremism as part of #PeacehackDC.
Taking a technological idea from design to fruition in 36 hours is no easy task, but the chance to make something tangible is not to be missed, according to #PeacehackDC participant Derek Caelin, a specialist at The PeaceTech Lab.
“So often in the peacebuilding community we are confronted with difficult problems where we have to think, we have to write, we have to communicate. And all these are absolutely necessary,” says Caelin. “But the fun thing also is creating something… to share with your community, start a conversation and initiate a learning process, not just for you but for others.”
International Franchising for Peace
In the past five years we have seen an explosion of individuals and groups — “peacetech entrepreneurs” — tackling age-old drivers of conflict ranging from inter-ethnic tension to land disputes to corruption using the ubiquitous technology and data tools available to them. It has become a truism to say that for the first time in human history everyone with a cell phone or Internet connection can send information, ideas and money around the world with the push of a button.
This rapid innovation is not just creating new opportunities for the field but also exposing the need for improvements. On July 8, the PeaceTech Lab and the U.S. Institute of Peace held a high level roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C. to consider ways of working that could better take advantage of these opportunities for peacebuilding: to learn not just how to adopt new technology but to create new innovative structures and institutions ready for its effects. There is still too much violence and suffering in the world to be held back by convention.
Why is Social Media so Lethally Effective in Inciting Terror?
Dr. Sheldon Himelfarb, president of The PeaceTech Lab in Washington D.C., is one of the foremost experts in the United States on the role social media plays in both peace building and terrorism.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, he noted that while it is difficult to gauge preciselyhow much of an impact social media has played in inciting violence as opposed to other platforms, previous studies clearly attest to the power of social media as a "medium to mobilize people for unified action on the streets." He cited in particular two studies his group carried out during popular protest movements in Egypt and Syria - the latter of which has long since evolved into a brutal civil war.
Escuchar la radio para no hacer la guerra en Sudán del Sur
En un estudio de Nairobi, James le pasa el zumo de mango a Rebecca, mientras Mary y Peter comentan entre risas las nuevas tramas de su radionovela. Son actores sursudaneses de etnias rivales haciendo algo que los oyentes en su país natal no imaginan: ser amigos.
"En Sudán del Sur (los dinka y los nuer, las tribus mayoritarias) no comen juntos, no caminan juntos, ni siquiera van al colegio juntos ni se sientan juntos a la mesa", explica James Tui a Efe.
Los protagonistas de "Sawa Shabab" ("Juventud unida"), una serie radiofónica impulsada por el Instituto Estadounidense para la Paz (USIP) y producida por Free Voice South Sudan, reivindican su papel en este nuevo capítulo de la historia de su país.