Digital democracy Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: DRI works with local partners to strengthen social media monitoring

DRI held a workshop on social media monitoring in Colombo on 3 and 4 December to strengthen how local partners monitor social media. The cooperation with the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) and People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) is a part of DRI’s efforts to prevent electoral violence in Sri Lanka by advancing electoral reforms and strengthening the integrity of public discourse.

The workshop included an overview of DRI’s methodology, examples of previous social media monitoring efforts, project objectives and relevant issues to monitor. The CMEV and PAFFREL identified key issues to monitor, such as governance, reconciliation and peace, as well as religious and ethnic issues. DRI also learnt from CMEV and PAFFREL’s experiences and challenges in observing Sri Lanka’s 2019 presidential elections.

Participants gained knowledge and skills that they will be able to apply directly in their own work during a coding exercise. The session concluded with a discussion on awareness-raising workshops for civil-society and grassroots actors on misinformation, hate speech and social media bias.

Following the workshop, DRI was invited to a roundtable meeting hosted by the European Union’s Election Observation Mission (EU EOM). DRI and the other stakeholders present exchanged views on the role of social media during Sri Lanka’s presidential elections. DRI, EU EOM and Hashtag Generation exchanged tools and methods used for observation and discussed methodological challenges around electoral observations online.

DRI’s social media monitoring in Sri Lanka aims to increase awareness and understanding of disinformation and hate speech online. DRI aims to achieve this by producing data-driven analyses on social media and by building momentum amongst key stakeholders to address the challenges posed by social media today.