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2021: The New Global Concern

As 2020 draws to a close, at IWPR we are grappling with a global challenge that in its way is even more grave than coronavirus.

From iwpr.net

Myanmar youths browsing Facebook pages at an internet shop in Yangon. Facebook has been heavily criticised over failures to control hate speech and misinformation in Myanmar. (Photo: Sai Aung Main/AFP via Getty Images)

Against the loss of life and economic devastation suffered in the pandemic, the world can at least take hope from science and the emerging vaccines. Yet another “new normal” has emerged with long-term consequences potentially even more dangerous – disinformation. IWPR is facing this challenge head-on, and we hope you will support us in this essential effort.

Driven by state powers and extremist operators, and fuelled by unregulated, conflict-driving social media, disinformation spreads even more quickly than a virus.

It divides societies and fuels violent radicalism, undermining democracy and faith in government. It also directly impacts public health – particularly the COVID-19 response – and other areas of public policy.

In a challenging year, I have never been more proud of IWPR’s staff, partners and beneficiaries around the world. COVID-19 has made more acute the challenges of government repression, clampdowns on women’s and minority rights, and restrictions on freedom of expression. Not only has IWPR adjusted to lockdown, staff have found creative solutions to delivering frontline programming.

Across more than 30 countries, IWPR is combatting disinformation – building up local media and civil society, supporting and producing reliable content, and building local coalitions for change. In Cuba, IWPR is building a new generation of independent voices. In Iraq, we train journalists to combat the impact of irresponsible social media. In a special programme, IWPR is partnering with technology, media and international institutes (including Poynter, Brookings and Hoover) to challenge the “sharp power” influence of China around the world.

For a brief perspective of IWPR programming, I invite you to view the video below from 3 of our local partners, highlighting the impact of IWPR’s work in: Lebanon, Central Asia and Nigeria.

At our recent IWPR International Board meeting, IWPR board members – FT editor Gillian Tett, award-winning author George Packer, and former New York Times editor Scott Malcomson – discussed the impact of the US elections on American foreign policy. You can watch a short summary below.

IWPR depends on donors, foundations and private supporters to help us continue to expand our counter-disinformation efforts. As a friend and supporter of IWPR, we would be so grateful for your gift to help us combat this global scourge.

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