Digitally Right has partnered with the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) to launch a pioneering report titled “Disinformation Risk Assessment: The Online News Market in Bangladesh”. The report provides insights on the dangers of disinformation in Bangladesh’s media industry, based on a study of 33 news domains.
The report was unveiled during an online event on March 28th, 2023, which included presentations from the Research Director at the Global Disinformation Index, and Digitally Right’s Founder, Miraj Ahmed Chowdhury. The event featured Shafiqul Alam, Bureau Chief at AFP, Dhaka, Ayesha Kabir, Head of English, Prothom Alo, Talat Mamun, Executive Director, Channel 24, and Saiful Alam Chowdhury, Associate Professor, Dhaka University, who shared their insights on the report.
The report presents GDI’s findings on disinformation risks in the media market of Bangladesh, based on a study of 33 news domains, and aims to provide an overview of the media market as a whole and its strengths and vulnerabilities.
The assessment found that all 33 domains had a medium to high risk of disinforming their users, including respected sites known for their independent news coverage. Sixteen sites had a high disinformation risk rating, and half of the sample had a medium risk rating. However, no site performed so poorly as to earn a maximum risk rating.
According to the findings, the main source of disinformation risk in Bangladesh media sites is the lack of transparent operational checks and balances. While all sites scored strongly in presenting unbiased, neutral, and accurate articles, 28 sites had no form of accuracy policy on their websites. Most sites lacked policies for editorial checks and balances including for post publication corrections, comment moderation, byline information, fact checking, and sourcing as well as clarity on funding and ownership structures.
The report highlights operational shortcomings that are hampering trust and transparency in the media industry. Recommendations made in the report urge news sites to adopt and make transparent universal standards of good journalistic practices, such as publishing beneficial ownership and funding information, maintaining a corrections policy, publishing bylines policies, and sourcing guidelines.
The findings show many of the operational issues afflicting the Bangladeshi websites can easily be fixed by adopting and making transparent universal standards of good journalistic practices as agreed upon by the Journalism Trust Initiative.
This risk-rating framework for Bangladesh provides crucial information to enable decision-makers to stem the tide of money that incentivizes and sustains disinformation and the report is aimed to encourage greater transparency and accountability in Bangladesh’s media landscape.
Digitally Right and the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) are launching a study into the disinformation risks on digital news platforms in Bangladesh. The study is based on an assessment of editorial and operational transparency in 33 Bangladeshi news domains creating an index that intends to serve the media and advertisers that they can utilize to defund disinformation.
The virtual launch event for the report is scheduled for 10:30 am on March 28th, 2023, and it will be held on Zoom. The event will feature an expert panel of media editors, researchers, and representatives from GDI and Digitally Right. To register for the event, please visit the following link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_0hTiIud-RHelA54ep1C0pw
The expansion of news into the online world has exposed the industry to new risks of disinformation, which can be financially incentivized for news websites. Disinformation can have harmful consequences, such as disrupting society’s shared sense of accepted facts and undermining public health and safety.
To combat ad-funded disinformation, GDI provides independent, trusted, and neutral ratings of news domains’ risk of disinforming their readers. These ratings can be used by advertisers, ad tech companies, and platforms to redirect their online ad spending in line with their brand safety and disinformation risk-mitigation strategies.
In 2022, GDI rated the disinformation risks of news sites in 20 countries around the world. Digitally Right, a Dhaka based media and technology research company collaborated with GDI to conduct the online news market assessment in Bangladesh.
We invite you to the launch event of the report titled “Disinformation Risk Assessment: The Online News Market in Bangladesh,” and a panel discussion that focuses on the risk of disinformation, trust in media, and their impact on media sustainability.
Digitally Right, in partnership with EngageMedia, co-hosted a solidarity event of the Asia-Pacific Digital Rights Forum on January 14, 2023, in Dhaka. The event was attended by around 30 academics, journalists, lawyers, feminists, researchers, and activists from different communities.
It coincided with four other simultaneous solidarity events in Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Manila that aimed to provide spaces for changemakers to meet each other and build stronger regional solidarity.
The Dhaka event featured sessions on online media freedom, hate speech, online gender-based violence (OGBV), and a focus group discussion (FGD) on the use of open and secure technology. Toward the end of the day, the group shared their learnings with their peers in the four other solidarity events through a virtual video call.
The event started with a session on online media freedom and censorship, which tackled issues ranging from the key actors involved in restricting free speech to discussions on reasonable restrictions to speech without hindering fundamental rights.
The second session on online hate speech and OGBV opened discussions on feminist politics, social justice movements, and backlash against gender equality in the digital space. Participants also talked about the reality and impact of online hate speech and gender-based violence in the Global South, especially in Bangladesh. According to a November 2021 survey, cases of OGBV increased during the pandemic, with 63.51 percent of 359 respondents saying they faced online violence.
The solidarity event concluded with an FGD to assess the awareness of civil society organizations, human rights defenders, and digital rights advocates in Bangladesh regarding online threats and surveillance. Participants discussed their understanding of ways to mitigate these threats using open and secure technology – such as by using virtual private networks, encrypted password managers, and secure messaging apps. The discussions also scrutinized the reasons behind the use or non-use of such technologies and how changemakers can work in more secure, ethical, and sustainable ways.
Digitally Right launched Dismislab, an independent information laboratory to tackle online misinformation and disinformation and enhance the critical thinking ability of the audience and media professionals in Bangladesh.
Launched as an experimental project in January 2023, the Dismislab carries out cutting-edge research to understand the trends in media and information space; factcheck and debunk falsehoods that impact society and people’s lives and offers training on online verification for newsrooms and university students to improve their fact-checking skills.
It provides in-depth articles to improve media literacy and act as a media watchdog by providing a space for journalists and academics to publish well-researched pieces on the role and practices of the media as a provider of critical information to its audience.
With the name Dismislab, inspired by the words “dis” and “mis” information and “dismissal”, it seeks to dismiss false and harmful information by presenting facts and contexts. It also aims to look into the source and intent of (mis)information to help the audience navigate an information disorder.
Dismislab has four objectives:
To build and promote media literacy at all levels through verification and research.
To present facts by verifying online misinformation and disinformation.
To help the media to avoid disinformation traps by providing training and mentoring.
To make open source data accessible and understandable to the people.
In its launch, the site published various articles including on influence operations, financially motivated disinformation, clickbait networks, and critical issues like health and religion. For more, please visit the site: dismislab.com
Digitally Right is delighted to introduce the first cohort of tech policy fellows. A total of eight early and mid-career professionals coming from diverse backgrounds in academia, civil society, media, and law have been selected as fellows for the six-month fellowship starting in October 2022.
They’ll attend a 4-day residential workshop, and several deep-dive sessions with leading global experts and produce research on critical tech policy issues affecting society and communities. Fellows will work with expert mentors to produce their works and will have the opportunity to present their findings to a distinguished gathering.
Digitally Right launched the first Tech Policy Fellowship 2022 in Bangladesh to enable professionals of different sectors to understand the global and local trends in tech policies and their role and impact. It aims to empower them with the essential skills and knowledge to become an advocate for a free and open digital space.
Access Now, an international non-profit organization working to defend and extend digital rights around the world, is a knowledge partner in this initiative.
Meet the Fellows (alphabetically)
Manisha Biswas has more than three years of experience in protecting the rights, presently, of the Rohingya community of Bangladesh. She takes a deep interest in artificial intelligence and how it governs social media platforms, policies related to AI, and their impact on society – which inspired her to apply for this fellowship. She believes that the knowledge acquired from the fellowship will help her to serve the communities better.
Mohammad Pizuar Hossain is a senior lecturer in law at the East-West University, and an advocate of the District and Sessions Judge Court, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He has five years of experience in research and has a strong interest in cybersecurity policy. He provides pro-bono legal support to the victims of human rights violations. He joined this fellowship program to extend his research vision in the ever-changing space of technology.
Mohammad Tauhidul Islam manages outreach and communications at Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) as a coordinator. He has 17 years of experience in journalism and 3 years in civil society. He is keen on data analytics, data protection, and tech transparency which brings him to the cohort of fellows. He expects to broaden his knowledge of national tech-related policies and their implications and translate the skills in advocacy for a freer digital space.
Rajib Ahmed brings extensive experience in journalism to the cohort. As a deputy head of reporting in Prothom Alo, he manages the reporting team and is eager to learn how his newsroom can better cover technology and digital rights issues. A business reporter turned news manager, Rajib wants to understand how technology and policies impact the freedom of expression. He listed a ton of questions for the fellowship organizers (no pressure!) that he believes this fellowship will answer.
Sadiul Islam Antor is an avid researcher from Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and a critic of recent national and international laws. He joins this fellowship with extensive knowledge in the policy sphere and experience in advocacy and legal research. What brings him to this fellowship is his thirst to know more about the global policy landscape and digital rights, which he believes will help him in his career.
Saraf Farhin Choudhury has been working as a research associate with a leading law firm for more than three years. She has extensive experience working on digital security and data protection laws and conducting comparative studies with GDPR and ADPPA. She joins the fellowship with her quest to gain a nuanced understanding of the issues and believes that this fellowship will help her in her professional work.
Umme Salma is a program coordinator at the Participatory Research and Action Network – PRAAN. She proudly serves her local community and maintains a network of youth advocates. Salma engages in social advocacy, particularly in gender rights and climate justice. She also takes interest in digital rights and expects to get both theoretical and hands-on experience from this fellowship.
Zyma Islam has more than ten years of experience in working on rights-based investigative journalism with The Daily Star in Bangladesh. She joins the fellowship with the hope of learning how to critically evaluate and examine the rapidly changing legislation landscape and to understand how global tech giants negotiate with governments.
Policies shape our lives in many ways. Those define how we live in a society, and what kind of society we would live in. With the rapid rise of the internet and the adoption of new technologies in our everyday life, we see different technology-related laws and policies emerge at home and across the world. As our virtual and physical lives get increasingly interlaced, the role and impact of tech policies on society have become more important than ever. Laws are meant to protect our safety and rights against abuses, and citizens can contribute to these policies with informed arguments, discussions, and debates.
Are you ready to contribute to a free and safe digital space? Here is your opportunity to learn.
Digitally Right launches the first Tech Policy Fellowship 2022 for young and mid-career professionals in Bangladesh, enabling them to understand the global and local trends in tech policies and their role and impact. It aims to empower citizen voices with the essential skills and knowledge to become an advocate for a free and open digital space. Access Now, an international non-profit organisation working to defend and extend the digital rights around the world, is a knowledge partner in this fellowship program.
Eligibility: We welcome applications from early and mid-career professionals. Please apply if you are from a law, journalism, academia, and civil society background; your age is between 26-40 years; the program is relevant to your career and professional work.
Program Duration: 6 months
What you get:
A 4-day residential workshop on tech policies at home and across the world.
Three in-depth virtual deep-dive sessions with leading global experts.
Production and publication of research papers/articles under expert mentors.
Present your work to a distinguished gathering.
Be a part of a regional network of tech policy enthusiasts.