Social media is at the heart of the political debate in the MENA region, and a safe space for everyone to participate is essential. Without a healthy digital environment, political instability in the region can only worsen.
This report is the second of four regional social media monitoring reports produced for the Words Matter project, covering the main political event from April to December 2022. The first report was published in September 2022, while the remaining two will be published in 2023. The second report analyses and provides recommendations to combat disinformation and hate speech in Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan and Sudan.
- The first part of the report analyses the regional context, prevailing trends in the region, outcomes and methods used regionally to spread hate speech and online manipulation, with regional recommendations.
- The second part examines three case studies: the 25 July 2022 constitutional referendum in Tunisia, the Lebanese parliamentary elections, and the Child Rights and Hate Speech Act in Jordan.
- The third part examines disinformation trends. We aim to identify and provide national and regional recommendations to counter behaviours, patterns and trends that focus on harassment and gender-based violence.
Focus on gendered online violence
In Lebanon, the research found that 43% of the social media accounts of 100 active female candidates showed various forms of online violence against women. In Jordan, online abuse is highly gendered: while it targets men because of their social status, the attack on women is on multiple levels, including their foreign origin, their rights and their place in political life. In Sudan, misogyny and gender-based violence are commonplace on social media platforms and the ground during political rallies.
Analysis of disinformation trends and tactics
During the monitoring period covered by this report, we identified several regional trends and tactics that different actors have used to spread hate speech and disinformation to influence the narrative in digital public spheres.
- In Lebanon, the Maharat Foundation has documented using superficial or cheapfakes, i.e. audiovisual manipulations, to spread hateful content based on religious motives.
- In Jordan, the Al-Hayat-Rased organisation documented the use of negative religious discourse against women at all levels, regardless of whether they wore Hijab or not.
- In Tunisia, disinformation content coordinated on social media with a strong emotional charge is used to amplify its dissemination and manipulate public sentiment. Anger is used as a tool to make disinformation go viral.
The report includes country- and region-specific recommendations based on social media monitoring and our partners' observations.
Our report includes recommendations addressed to:
- Political parties and movements
- Traditional media
- Research communities in the MENA region
- Tech platforms
- Civil society
Download the full report in Arabic and English below.