Recent decisions regarding one of social media’s better-known users, former US president Donald Trump, have ignited a debate on Big Tech’s role in controlling content. Hear what eight experts from the IFEX global network have to say about it.

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With the public space having moved largely online — it’s where we live, learn, work and protest — there is a lot at stake with content moderation. IFEX reached out to a few member organisations from across the globe and asked them to share some of their thoughts on this increasingly complex global issue.

The StoryMap we created includes powerful and…

January 2021 in Africa: A free expression roundup produced by IFEX’s regional editor Reyhana Masters, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

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Ethiopian Army soldiers stand in front of a group of children at the Mai Aini Refugee camp for Eritrean refugees amidst the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia, 30 January 2021, EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images

The media sector in Africa entered 2021 on a sombre note, sealed with a short, sharp message from the director-general of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, condemning the death of Ethiopian journalist Dawit Kebede Araya and calling for an inquiry into his murder.

“I condemn the killing of Dawit Kebede. I call on the authorities to investigate this crime and bring its perpetrators to justice. …

January in the Americas: A free expression round up produced by IFEX’s Regional Editor Paula Martins, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

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Brazilians take part in a protest against president Jair Bolsonaro and his management of the COVID-19 outbreak, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 31 January 2021, Cris Faga/NurPhoto

Identifying vulnerabilities in ‘digital solutions’ developed in the fight against COVID

In late January, IFEX member Fundación Karisma launched a report that documents and systematizes the vulnerabilities found and reported by the organisation’s K+LAB Digital Security and Privacy Laboratory during 2020.

According to the report, both the national and regional governments in Colombia reacted to the COVID pandemic with ‘digital solutions’ to complement other measures — mainly restrictions on movement and circulation. Apart from research into whether these technological solutions are effective, the fact that…

January in the Middle East and North Africa: A free expression roundup produced by IFEX’s Regional Editor Naseem Tarawnah, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

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A young woman in front of a line of riot police during a demonstration against police repression and calling for the release of recently detained protesters, Tunis, Tunisia, 30 January 2021, Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ten years on, the Arab Spring has come full circle with the start of 2021 in the region looking terribly reminiscent of a decade ago when protests erupted in response to an unbearable status quo. The past month saw continued anti-government demonstrations throughout the region in the face of COVID-19 lockdowns, and a hardened clampdown on free expression and assembly:

Bread, dignity, and justice for all

As the new year began, the struggle for bread, dignity and…

January in Europe and Central Asia: A free expression round up produced by IFEX’s Regional Editor Cathal Sheerin, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

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Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest in support of the detained opposition figure Alexei Navalny, St Petersburg, Russia, 31 January 2021, Peter KovalevTASS via Getty Images

January saw the arrest of Alexei Navalny spark massive protests across Russia and an incredibly brutal response by the authorities. It saw injustice continuing to flourish in Turkey and another blow against women in Poland. It was also a month of fairytales and aqua discos:

Record numbers arrested at Navalny-inspired protests

Police arrested over 5,000 people — among them more than 80 journalists — and used stun guns on reporters and demonstrators whilst attempting to repress the second…

January 2021 in Asia-Pacific: A free expression roundup produced by IFEX’s regional editor Mong Palatino, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

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A protester uses a three-finger salute (from the “Hunger Games” movies) during a demonstration calling for the release of activists arrested under the Lèse-majesté law, Bangkok, Thailand, 16 January 2021, Amphol Thongmueangluang/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Positive developments in the region such as prison releases and the outlawing of the “virginity test” were overshadowed by mass arrests in Hong Kong, an absurdly long prison term handed out to a Thai elderly woman for “insulting” the king, the silencing of journalists in Vietnam ahead of the Communist Party Congress, and the shocking acquittal of American journalist Daniel Pearl’s murderer in Pakistan. …

IFEX’s Africa Regional Editor Reyhana Masters writes that President Yoweri Museveni’s win in Uganda’s election should not come as a surprise, highlighting an uneven playing field defined by attacks, arrests & internet blackouts

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Along with ramping up the volume on violence and repression in recent weeks, President Museveni has, over the years, relied heavily on putting restrictive laws and policies in place.

In 2018, President Museveni signed a bill to remove the 75-year age limit to allow him to contest the 2021 elections. The bill had first been debated a year earlier amidst a brawl in Parliament.

His anticipated win…

December in the Americas: A free expression round up produced by IFEX’s Regional Editor Paula Martins, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

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A member of the press pays tribute to journalist Felipe Guevara, who died earlier, two days after being shot, in Cali, Colombia, 23 December 2020, PAOLA MAFLA/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil: Racism and censorship

On 23 December, Brazilian IFEX-ALC members, the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji), and ARTIGO 19, alongside seven other organizations working on freedom of expression, signed a joint statement condemning judicial censorship imposed on the news portal and agency Ponte. The decision also affected sites that republished the content, including Alma Preta.

Back in September, Ponte had reported on the conviction of Luanna Efigenia de Sousa Teófilo, a woman forced to pay more than…

December in the Middle East and North Africa: A free expression roundup produced by IFEX’s Regional Editor Naseem Tarawnah, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

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An Amnesty International action calling for the release of Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul, on International Women’s Day, Paris, France, 8 March 2020, Jeanne Menjoulet/Flickr, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Authorities in MENA marked the end of 2020 with a chilling reminder of how deadly a year it has been for the region’s journalists and activists. Justice continues to elude those forcibly disappeared in Syria and Iraq. Civil society battles an increasingly surveilled online civic space:

Pandemic crackdowns and cultivating climates of fear

Harassment, arrests, indefinite detentions, and killings marred December and the past year as authorities sought to erode an already shrinking civic space with a pandemic-fueled…

December 2020 in Africa: A free expression roundup produced by IFEX’s regional editor Reyhana Masters, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

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The cover of a book on the life of prominent Gambian journalist Deyda Hydara slain in 2004, is displayed in Dakar, Senegal, 6 February 2008, SEYDOU DIALLO/AFP via Getty Images

The end of 2020 brought an unexpected but welcome Christmas Eve gift in the unconditional release, through a presidential pardon, of Burundian journalists Agnes Ndirubusa, Christine Kamikazi, Egide Harerimana and Terence Mpozenzi.

The journalists from Iwacu Press Group, one of the country’s remaining independent media outlets, were sentenced to two and half years in prison and fined a million Burundian francs (US$515) in what was seen as a flawed legal process.

The #IWACU4, as…

IFEX

IFEX is a global network of organisations that defend and promote the right to freedom of expression and information. Email: info@ifex.org

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