Saskia Rowley
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A report from Lebanon’s Maharat Foundation examines the role of freedom of expression and media during the 2019 uprising. Maharat’s aim is to create societal and political conditions that enhance freedom of expression and access to information both online and offline. It equips a progressive community in Lebanon and the region with the skills and knowledge necessary to bring about change.

Surveillance and loss of privacy are watchwords in the digital transformation of societies worldwide. Who is watching us and for what purposes? Who is infringing private spaces and closing down public spaces? When it comes to communication infrastructures and technologies, accessibility and affordability are no longer enough, simply because neither governments nor corporate entities can be trusted to play fair.

National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States is demonstrating the importance both of giving a voice to migrants in media, and of ensuring the independence of the public broadcasting platform. As reported by another public broadcaster, BBC (“The immigrants telling stories history missed” 10 February 2020, two young radio producers, one with Iranian and the other with Palestinian backgrounds, are leading a new podcast series that highlight stories that most people have missed in their history lessons.

It’s surprising that the issue of “fake news” took so long to raise its head. Deliberate misinformation and bias have been around for as long as journalism itself – more than 400 years by some accounts. The yellow press (a term coined in the 1890s to describe the sensationalist reporting of two New York City newspapers, the World and the Journal) and tabloid journalism encapsulate a form of writing that is, let’s say, highly economical with the truth. Gossip magazines and reality shows merely fanned the flames of the public’s insatiable desire for speculation and innuendo.

Google should have known better! An Associated Press piece in The Guardian newspaper (“YouTube fined $170m for collecting children’s personal data”, 4 September 2019) notes a serious violation of children’s right to privacy: “Google’s video site YouTube has been fined $170m to settle allegations it collected children’s personal data...