A seismic win for digital rights, mega pressure on Meta pays dividends, and journalists bear brunt of election fever

A supporter holds a painted portrait of Azimio La Umoja Coalition presidential candidate Raila Odinga during a campaign rally in Murang’a, 23 July 2022, ahead of Kenya’s August 2022 general election. YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images

Meta’s public face versus its private practice

Human rights and freedom of expression advocates welcome the decision by Facebook’s parent company Meta and its moderation outsourcing firm, Sama, not to impose a gag order against Kenya-based whistleblower Daniel Motaung.

Journalists bear brunt of election season

In the weeks prior to scheduled elections in Senegal, Kenya, and Angola, the media has been bearing the brunt of feverish electioneering. Partisan reporting by a few media outlets is juxtaposed against a disproportionate rise in attacks on journalists covering election-related events — perpetrated by party supporters on either side of the political divide.

Senegal

Alongside the significant increase in verbal and physical attacks since last year, the recent spike in assaults against the media compelled an alliance of Senegalese journalists’ associations, called the Press Actors Coordination (CAP), to push for a national dialogue.

Kenya

The dominant feature of Kenya’s electoral landscape — a carryover from their 2017 elections — has been the alarming intensity of disinformation which IFEX member CIPESA warns is “fanning hate speech, threatening electoral integrity, and is expected to persist well beyond the polls.” As mentioned in last month’s Regional Brief, a detailed report by Mozilla Fellow Odanga Madung focuses on TikTok, and highlights the shocking increase in videos containing hate speech and political disinformation in relation to the poll. Thrown into this mêlée is the burgeoning business of influencers offering their services to electoral candidates and contributing further to the damaging cycle of disinformation.

Angola

On the one hand, Angolan citizens are coming to terms with the death of former President Eduardo do Santos, and on the other, they are gearing up for their most competitive election to date. The presidential race will be contested by current president Joao Lourenco of the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the United Patriotic Front (FPU) candidate, Adalberto da Costa Junior — and also the leader of National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

“It is in this context of protest and repressionthat the media environment is once againbeingcompletely muzzled by the state, which owns and controls most media outlets with nationwide reach. The government shut down and confiscated all private television companies and some radio stations during its anti-corruption crusade, with state-owned media outlets essentially serving as propaganda vehicles for the ruling party.”

Paula Cristina Roque, political analyst and author of Governing in the Shadows: Angola’s Securitised State, believes that the presidency’s efforts to maintain power at all costs are central to how the Angolan state is run — more so than actual governance of the country or even the interests of the ruling MPLA.

In brief

South African outlets dominated the 2022 winners of the WAN-IFRA African digital media awards announced on 12 July. Recipients included Media 24, Daily Maverick, Food for Mzansi and Arena Holdings. Ghana’s Pulse Instagram won the award for Best Audience Engagement.

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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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IFEX

IFEX

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