Panel 3: Fighting Gender-Based Hate Speech and Disinformation, and the Role of Social Innovation
Audrey Tang is Taiwan’s digital minister in charge of Social Innovation. Audrey is known for revitalizing the computer languages Perl and Haskell, as well as building the online spreadsheet system EtherCalc in collaboration with Dan Bricklin.
In the public sector, Audrey served on Taiwan national development council’s open data committee and the 12-year basic education curriculum committee; and led the country’s first e-Rulemaking project. In the private sector, Audrey worked as a consultant with Apple on computational linguistics, with Oxford University Press on crowd lexicography, and with Socialtext on social interaction design.
In the social sector, Audrey actively contributes to g0v (“gov zero”), a vibrant community focusing on creating tools for the civil society, with the call to “fork the government.”
Maria Ressa co-founded Rappler, the top digital only news site that is leading the fight for press freedom in the Philippines. As Rappler’s CEO and president, Maria has endured constant political harassment and arrests by the Duterte government, forced to post bail ten times to stay free. Rappler’s battle for truth and democracy is the subject of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival documentary, A Thousand Cuts.
For her courage and work on disinformation and ‘fake news,’ Maria was named Time Magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year, was among its 100 Most Influential People of 2019, and has also been named one of Time’s Most Influential Women of the Century. She was also part of BBC’s 100 most inspiring and influential women of 2019 and Prospect magazine’s world’s top 50 thinkers. In 2020, she received the Journalist of the Year award, the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award, the Most Resilient Journalist Award, the Tucholsky Prize, the Truth to Power Award, and the Four Freedoms Award.
Among many awards for her principled stance, she received the prestigious Golden Pen of Freedom Award from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, the Knight International Journalism Award from the International Center for Journalists, the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Shorenstein Journalism Award from Stanford University, the Columbia Journalism Award, the Free Media Pioneer Award from the International Press Institute, and the Sergei Magnitsky Award for Investigative Journalism.
Before founding Rappler, Maria focused on investigating terrorism in Southeast Asia. She opened and ran CNN’s Manila Bureau for nearly a decade before opening the network’s Jakarta Bureau, which she ran from 1995 to 2005. She wrote Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia and From Bin Laden to Facebook: 10 Days of Abduction, 10 Years of Terrorism.
Priyank Mathur is Founder and CEO of Mythos Labs, a social enterprise that uses technology and media to counter online harm and gender inequality. Priyank is also host of the current season of the United Nations’ ExtremeLives, a docu-series about the lives of terrorists and their victims in Southeast Asia. Previously, Priyank served as a Policy Analyst and Intelligence Officer in the Office of the Secretary at the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). At DHS, Priyank co-authored the department’s inaugural Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) strategy and advised the White House and senior DHS leadership on emerging terrorist threats. Priyank also served as Global Consulting Director at Ogilvy and Mather in New York and as a comedy writer at The Onion. Priyank holds an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management, as well as an MA and BA in International Relations from Boston University.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated threats not only to women’s physical well-being but to their digital safety as well. Recent research conducted by Mythos Labs used qualitative methods and artificial intelligence-powered technology to uncover striking linkages between the COVID-19 pandemic and online misogyny/hate speech directed at women in six countries in Asia (Philippines, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Sri Lanka). This chapter will draw from Mythos Labs’ research and supplemental reports to illustrate how, in the wake of the pandemic, misogynist groups and individuals across Asia are increasing the volume of hate speech directed at women, spreading new COVID-related misogynist narratives and disproportionately influencing the opinions of other social media users. The chapter will also feature case studies from the author’s field work in rural populations to highlight how investing in women and men’s social media literacy can lead to safer online communities. In addition, the chapter will explore the benefits and limitations of counter/alternative-narratives aimed at combatting gendered extremist propaganda, based on the author’s experience creating such counter/alternative-narratives in the region. Lastly, the chapter will lay out a series of actionable recommendations for governments and civil society organizations to better understand and mitigate the gendered risks of online harm.