Findings from Sri Lanka's 2020 Parliamentary Election

This report provides an analysis of data collated by Hashtag Generation’s “social media newsroom”  during the 2020 Sri Lankan Parliamentary Election and covers online misinformation, hate speech, harassment and election law violations that took place in the pre-election context (15th June – 2nd August), the “cooling period” (3rd – 5th August) as well as the Election day and its immediate aftermath. The report also provides some recommendations to the Election Commission, Social Media Companies, Election Observers and Civil Society Groups on countering such content that could negatively impact the democratic process of the election.

Findings from the Social Media Monitoring Exercise during the 2019 Sri Lankan Presidential Election

This report contains the key findings from the social media monitoring exercise conducted by Hashtag Generation in the run-up to, during and in the immediate aftermath of the 2019 Sri Lankan Presidential Election. We operated a social media ‘newsroom’ with trilingual capability (Sinhala, Tamil and English) which ‘observed’ social media platforms (especially Facebook), around the clock during the election period.

The findings of the monitoring exercise revealed that there were coordinated dangerous speech narratives including hate speech campaigns and dis/misinformation narratives were widely shared during the monitoring period.

Some of this content was ‘boosted’ using paid advertising on Facebook and other platforms. Such coordinated, well-planned hate speech and disinformation campaigns threaten social cohesion but creating a climate of mistrust among communities, affect healthy debate, skew public opinion and as such can affect the democratic process of an election.

Opinions, B*tch: Technology Based Violence Against Women in Sri Lanka

This report is a joint effort of Center for Policy Alternatives, Hashtag Generation and Ghosha women that looks at how women are discussed on Facebook, a platform used by over 6 million Sri Lankans regularly. The report also includes qualitative research in the form of focus group discussions conducted with members of the Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (LBT) community on their experiences relating to technology-based violence, as well as through interviews with female politicians and activists outside Colombo.

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This report provides an analysis of phenomena around three political events: the local government elections, anti-Muslim violence and the constitutional crisis during 2018. The study focuses on analyzing social media data from Facebook to extract evidence and generate narratives on users’ general perception and relationship with politicians as well as on misinformation and hate speech online.

To provide an analysis of how social media influences Sri Lanka’s political discourse, the report

  • Uses sentiment analysis and ‘criticism versus support’ analysis as a method to interpret Facebook users’ comments on politicians’ posts;
  • Analyses the posts of ethno-nationalist groups;
  • Analyses the level of engagement and whether content is misleading or not.

This analysis sheds light on the potential impact of social media usage on Sri Lanka’s social cohesion