Public Radio International
South Sudan became the world’s newest country in 2011. But since breaking from Sudan, it’s been riven by its own internal conflicts between clan groups, minor warlords and government factions.
Earlier this month, the United Nations World Food Program discovered three of its workers were killed there. The violence has gotten so bad that a senior British official has made the rare move by a foreign government of calling it outright tribal “genocide.”
Meanwhile, internet monitors are watching very closely. Online hate speech and fake news posts seem to be inciting some of the real world violence, according to researchers and activists.
“There’s a huge potential for genocide using the mechanism of social media to drive the conflict,” says Stephen Kovats, a founder of #DefyHateNow, a nonprofit working to counter online hate speech in South Sudan.
In South Sudan, “inflammatory rhetoric, stereotyping and name calling have been accompanied by targeted killings and rape of members of particular ethnic groups, and by violent attacks against individuals or communities on the basis of their perceived political affiliation,” says a November report by Adama Dieng, the United Nations special adviser on the prevention of genocide. “The media, including social media, are being used to spread hatred and encourage ethnic polarization.”