Bread&Net 2022

From November 15 to 17 2022, the SMEX organization held the 5th Bread and Net event in Beirut - Lebanon, to promote and defend digital rights across Arabic-speaking countries and raise awareness about human rights issues in the region. The event brought together local activists, human rights experts, and members of the international community to promote and strengthen the local culture of digital literacy, privacy, and security while bringing to light the wider digital rights challenges and opportunities emerging in our region.

The CVT-New Tactics team including myself, Ayman Malhis, as well as Omar Altabakha, presented at Bread and Net 2022 in a session entitled “Tactical Mapping: A Digital Tool to Advance Human Rights”.

This session discussed how the Tactical Mapping Tool (TMT) will help attendees develop a human rights-based problem statement, vision statement, relationships map, spectrum of allies diagram and tactical action reports. We input selected actors and connections from a case study to envision how targeted advocacy actions could be implemented. We also provided attendees with real-life uses of the TMT to provide context around the tool's implementation in human rights advocacy.

Over 104 sessions at the Bread and Net unconference addressed current human rights threats and opportunities in our digital spaces. 450 participants attended the event in person, and another 500 individuals and organizations joined virtually from around the world.

During the unconference, I had the chance to network with and attend presentations by presenters from many organizations. They provided a fascinating look at their work and contributions to the field of human rights. Some highlights of these sessions and organizations include:

The Tor Browser (Tor): The TOR browser is a privacy-focused web browser that allows users to access the internet anonymously by routing their traffic through a network of servers operated by volunteers around the world. It is designed to protect users' online privacy and security by preventing websites from tracking their location or collecting personal data. The browser is particularly popular among journalists, activists, and anyone who wants to keep their online activities private.

One of the unique features of the TOR browser is its support for onion services, also known as hidden services. These are websites that can only be accessed through the TOR network and use a special ".onion" domain. Onion services are designed to provide a higher level of anonymity and privacy than traditional websites, as the traffic is encrypted and the website's location is hidden. This can be particularly useful for individuals or organizations that need to operate anonymously or in countries with strict internet censorship laws. The TOR browser and onion services are important tools for protecting online privacy and free speech.

The session was recorded and shared on SMEX YouTube channel.

The Tella-app: Tella is a free app available for Android and iOS devices. It can be used for research, advocacy or transitional justice and allows users to produce high-quality documentation. During the session, I had the opportunity to watch a live demo of how the app works and its main features.

This application can be used to record videos and audio, take photos, or import files. The application is password-protected and can be hidden on a device, with its icon and name changed. All files saved within the application are automatically encrypted and stored in a hidden gallery that is inaccessible from the device's main gallery. With verification mode enabled, the application will also save metadata such as device identification, geolocation, and network information, and store it with the files to ensure that evidence is verifiable.

The Oversight Board for Meta: In 2020, Facebook and Instagram established the Facebook Oversight Board to provide a platform for users to appeal content removal decisions and to offer policy recommendations for the two social media platforms. If you have shared content on Facebook or Instagram that was removed by the companies and your appeal was not accepted, you can obtain an ID number for your case and file an appeal through the Oversight Board website. This independent body is designed to provide an impartial decision on content moderation issues, allowing users to appeal any removal decisions.

The Facebook Oversight Board currently has 23 members. Over the past two years, the board received more than 2 million cases and selected only 34 of those cases to review. From those cases, the board issued 118 recommendations to Facebook and Instagram regarding their content moderation policies. It is worth noting that the companies agreed to implement 70% of the recommendations put forward by the board. This suggests that the board's recommendations have been taken seriously by Facebook and Instagram, and that the oversight process has been effective in improving the company’s' content moderation policies.

The session was recorded and shared on SMEX YouTube channel.

Words Matter: Monitoring Misinformation and Hate Speech on Social Media: Social media has become a powerful platform for communication and information-sharing, but it also has a dark side that can contribute to harm and conflict. In this session, we delve into the issues of misinformation and hate speech on social media, exploring their impact on regions during transitional periods. and examine the effects of hate speech directed at women in public forums.

At the beginning of the workshop, the facilitators provided a comprehensive overview of harmful content, its different forms, and how it appears on popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Participants will learn how to track and identify harmful content using various tools and techniques.

In the second half of the workshop, we engaged in an interactive discussion and experimentation session. and worked with real-world cases, to learn how to verify, classify, and analyze information and data circulating on social media.

Overall, the BreadAndNet human rights event in Beirut was a powerful and enlightening gathering that brought together a diverse group of people to discuss the ongoing human rights issues in the MENA region and to find ways to address them. The participants at the event urged the government to protect its citizens' rights and promote human rights in the MENA region.