Fighting a Two-Front War: Censorship and Disinformation in Southeast Asia

FRI, JUL 10, 2020 (00:00)

This episode of BIG, If True, reflects on the hybrid battles being waged by journalists, activists, and dissidents against censorship and disinformation in Southeast Asia. The discussion traces the genesis of the recent attacks on the freedom to expression, from the rise and fall of the Anti-Fake News Act in Malaysia to the conviction of Rappler CEO and Editor Maria Ressa and former Rappler researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos over cyber libel charges — a conviction that has been widely reported as a strike against press freedom and democracy in the Philippines. In light of these extraordinary censorship measures, this conversation charts the broader efforts being made by civil society to counter the repression of free speech.

Image: Pixabay.com

+ BIO: Joan Donovan

Dr. Joan Donovan is Director of the Technology and Social Change (TaSC) Research Project at the Shorenstein Center. Dr. Donovan leads the field in examining internet and technology studies, online extremism, media manipulation, and disinformation campaigns.

Dr. Donovan’s research and teaching interests are focused on media manipulation, effects of disinformation campaigns, and adversarial media movements.

Dr. Donovan’s research can be found in academic peer-reviewed journals such as Social Media + Society, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography (JCE), Information, Communication & Society, Social Studies of Science, and Online Information Review. Her contributions can also be found in the books, Data Science Landscape: Towards Research Standards and Protocols and Unlike Us Reader: Social Media Monopolies and Their Alternatives. Dr. Donovan’s research and expertise has been showcased in a wide array of media outlets including NPR, Washington Post, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, and more.

Prior to joining Harvard Kennedy School, Dr. Donovan was the Research Lead for Data & Society’s Media Manipulation Initiative, where she led a large team of researchers studying efforts to manipulate sociotechnical systems for political gain. She continues to hold an affiliate appointment with Data & Society.

Dr. Donovan received her Ph.D. in Sociology and Science Studies from the University of California San Diego, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics, where she studied white supremacists’ use of DNA ancestry tests, social movements, and technology.

+ BIO: Gabrielle Lim

Gabrielle Lim is a researcher with the Technology and Social Change (TaSC) Research Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center, as well as a fellow with Citizen Lab. She researches information controls and security, with a focus on disinformation and media manipulation.

In 2019, she was an Open Technology Fund Information Controls fellow at Data & Society. She also was an Open Society Foundations grantee in 2017, completing a research project on far-right activity on Twitter. In 2018, she received a Masters of Global Affairs from the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto.

+ BIO: Jonathan Corpus Ong

is Associate Professor of Global Digital Media in the Department of Communication, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA. He is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the journal Television and New Media. His expertise is on the social and moral consequences of media in the everyday lives of vulnerable communities, particularly in the Global South. He is the author of the public report “Architects of Networked Disinformation: Behind the Scenes of Troll Accounts and Fake News Production in the Philippines” (2018) and the book, The Poverty of Television: The Mediation of Suffering in Class-Divided Philippines (Anthem, 2015). He is co-editor of the volume, Taking the Square: Mediated Dissent and Occupations of Public Space (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016).

+ BIO: Glenda Gloria

is the managing editor of Rappler and one of its co-founders. She has worked for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Manila Times, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and for international news agencies. In the dying days of the Estrada administration, she co-founded the Philippines’ top investigative magazine Newsbreak, which started as a newsweekly. She has authored two groundbreaking books: “Under the Crescent Moon: Rebellion in Mindanao,” with Marites Dañguilan-Vitug and “The Enemy Within: An Inside Story on Military Corruption,” with the late Aries Rufo and Gemma Bagayaua-Mendoza. In May 2018, Glenda finished her Nieman journalism fellowship at Harvard University.

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