Digital democracy International

Guide for Civil Society on Monitoring Social Media During Elections

Recent election interference cases have put social media at the centre of attention. These events exposed the risks posed by actors manipulating political perceptions through disinformation or hate speech and spreading their messages using bots or political advertising. A key problem has been the little information we actually have about social media debates in elections.

The EU’s Guide for Civil Society on Monitoring Social Media During Elections, prepared by DRI, helps readers understand how these challenges are affecting democracies and sets out how to monitor these phenomena to create a better understanding and to make that discourse more transparent. The guide provides a framework to establish monitoring activities, how to produce evidence to help counter threats to democratic discourse and strategies to help shape better regulation.

Readers are guided through four strategic questions before beginning their monitoring activities – Which platform should be monitored? What is the ideal time span? Which topics and actors need to be monitored? Readers will also find practical information on how to access data, which tools to use and how to use data ethically. The guide includes an analysis on how social media impact political discourse and what legal framework applies to social media platforms. Finally, readers will learn how and when to report findings in a way that will have the most impact.

This guide was developed by DRI’s Research Coordinator Rafael Goldzweig and Executive Director Michael Meyer-Resende, with the input of 20 experts from around the world under the “Supporting Democracy” programme, an EU-funded initiative. The analysis builds on DRI’s own experience with social media monitoring in Europe, Africa and Asia.

DRI is now building a hands-on digital toolkit to provide more support to social media monitors, with support from the Slovak NGO MEMO98. The toolkit will be published in 2020.

The guide is available in English, French and in Burmese.


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