Kenyan worker’s arrest shows power, and peril, of online advocacy

[Published here June 3, 2021]

BEIRUT, June 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – With perfect prose, sizzling sarcasm and a host of anonymous accounts, Malcolm Bidali has waged a one-man social media campaign to improve working conditions for migrant labourers in Qatar for nearly a year.

“It kind of makes me feel like Batman or Superman. You can say the things you want to say, with your own voice and your own style,” said Bidali, 28, speaking to the Thomson Reuters Foundation from Doha.

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LGBT+ conversion therapy: banned on Facebook, but thriving in Arabic

[Produced alongside Thomson Reuters Foundation’s digital correspondent Avi Asher-Schapiro and published here on June 3, 2021]

When he was growing up in a small Egyptian town outside Cairo, Omar began feeling sexually attracted to other men. Too afraid to talk to family or friends, he turned to Facebook for help, shielding his identity with a false name.

Scouring social media for information and advice is a common recourse for young men and women who think they may be gay and live in socially conservative Arab societies.

But it can lead them to therapists, spiritual leaders and influencers promising to “cure the affliction” of homosexuality through so-called conversion therapy – practices that aim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

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Investigating corruption between lockdowns & explosions | Marie Colvin Journalist Network

[Published here June 1, 2021]

“Money makes the world go round” is a well-known saying. In Iraq, however, it is “dirty money”. Even after more than a year living in Baghdad, I still got surprised by how much of public life in the war-weary country relied on the circulation of illicit funds – and how formalised this corruption had become. 

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Content moderation in conflict zones: What role for big tech?

[Published here May 21, 2021]

May 21 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Conflict broke out this month between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip – and big tech has not been spared.

Instagram and Twitter have blamed technical errors for deleting posts mentioning the possible eviction of Palestinians from East Jerusalem, but data rights groups fear “discriminatory” algorithms are at work and want greater transparency.

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