Digital Propaganda Or ‘Normal’ Political Polarization? A Case Study of Political Debate on Polish Twitter
This policy brief by Katarzyna Szymielewicz and Karolina Iwańska at the Panoptykon Foundation draws on the findings of research conducted by Pawel Popiel and Emad Khazraee for the Internet Policy Observatory and submitted for academic publication. This collaborative research sought to better understand the shape of political debate on Polish Twitter, the role of Bots and false amplifiers, and political polarization in these spaces. This research was conducted in September and October of 2017, with one million tweets collected and analyzed.
Using Research in Digital Rights Advocacy: Understanding the Research Needs of the Internet Freedom Community
The importance of research within digital rights advocacy cannot be understated. Whether your objective is to persuade policymakers, communicate with companies, educate journalists, convince funders, or influence public opinion, you need accurate and systematically collected information. All advocacy organizations engage in research even if they don’t realize it—advocates are identifying a problem, strategically analyzing causes and effects, seeking potential solutions through information gathering, and communicating this information in a compelling way with core stakeholders. While most organizations have some capacity for research, many organizations do not have the time, funding, or expertise to understand how to deploy the best, most robust, and most convincing research methods to fuel data-driven advocacy. This is especially true for digital rights-related activism, where methods for studying the effects of internet policies, internet user behavior, and corporate decision-making online are often highly technical.
Information and communications technology (ICT) companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Twitter are vitally important to billions of users around the world, not only in their day-to-day personal and professional lives, but also in their ability to shape social and political reality. Yet there is a pervasive lack of clarity around the policies and practices that govern user engagement on these platforms and sites, and the values that undergird them. This information is of great importance to policy researchers and civil society advocates, particularly in the wake of numerous recent events that have put the relative power and opacity of ICT companies in the spotlight. Access to information about them is often incredibly difficult to obtain, when it is available at all. These difficulties are faced by many categories of people interested in researching ICT companies, from academics to journalists, and from civil society advocates to policy researchers.
Freedom of expression and opinion online is increasingly criminalised with the aid of penal and internet-specific legislation. In this special edition of GISWatch, the Association for Progressive Communication brings together analysis on the criminalisation of online expression from six Asian states: Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Thailand. The IPO provided support for the extension of the project to include Malaysia and Thailand and work with researchers within these countries to produce the country reports.