IGF 2023 WS #563 Social media and conflict in Sudan


Human Rights & Freedoms
Counter-terrorism and Human Rights
Internet Shutdowns
Non-discrimination in the Digital Space
Rights to Access and Information

Organizer 1: Sara Bedri, 🔒ISOC Sudan
Organizer 2: Daniel Opio, Digital Collective
Organizer 3: Lily Edinam Botsyoe, 🔒
Organizer 4: Gabriel Karsan, 🔒Ongea Na Demokrasia
Organizer 5: Ahmed Hamad, 🔒ISOC Sudan

Speaker 1: Sara Bedri, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: Lily Edinam Botsyoe, Technical Community, African Group
Speaker 3: Ahmed Hamad, Technical Community, African Group


Gabriel Karsan, Civil Society, African Group

Online Moderator

Daniel Opio, Civil Society, African Group


Daniel Opio, Civil Society, African Group


Break-out Group Discussions - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. How can civil society and the public sector collaborate to regulate Big Tech in terms of content moderation
2. How do local cybersecurity laws in Sudan affect the safety of citizens during conflict
3. What role can education and digital literacy (institutionalisation) play in protecting civilians in the future

What will participants gain from attending this session? There is a lot of wariness about peace and tech. The public is rarely involved in these conversations yet they are the most affected by these conflicts. Online strategies in conflict mediation exist, what is important is to learn from conflict stakeholders and digital communities.
The session aims to explore the following through participants’ feedback and two-way ongoing dialogue:
Internet access & news on conflict and crisis, how is it possible that news is transmitted when conflict zones often have no to low connectivity?
Why is it important to have Internet access during crises and times of unrest?
How is conflict framed on the Internet and social media?
How can online harmful content be countered during conflict and crises?
What constitutes as hatespeech, how often is it experienced?
How does the Internet reflect the reality of conflict, what biases and manipulation tactics exist in different settings?


This workshop explores the role of social media in peacebuilding and manufactured consensus efforts in Sudan. The workshop examines the ways in which social media is being used to support peacebuilding initiatives in the country, as well as the challenges and limitations of these efforts. Starting from social media's role to promote peace and peaceful coexistence during the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA), foster dialogue and engagement, creative alterntatives to conflict and increase awareness. In light of the ongoing war in Sudan, the workshop will highlight the unfolding threats to civilians and swaying their support to both the militia and army through inauthentic behavior and tactics. This workshop will provide practical examples and interactive ways of indentfying disinformation in the Sudanese social media landscape and efforts of countering including access to vital information and how maps are created that show the development of conflict. This workshop is based on social media monitoring and projects conducted with local NGOs, international diplomacy organisations in Sudan, and academic research from 2020 to 2023. The study shows that social media shift power dynamics and fuel conflict in Sudan despite low Internet access, both intentionally and unintentionally.
The use of social media for peace is a new and emerging field with an old basis in the creative act and utilization of new resources in peacebuilding. This session will explore ethical angles, challenges associated with social media mapping and information gathering; surveillance and bias. In authoritarian states, censorship of traditional media and journalists dictates heavy dependency on the Internet and social networking sites for news. This session will take into account the centrality of news around conflict, the role the Internet plays in decentralizing news, agenda setting aspect, spread of content, and desensitization factors of social sites.

Expected Outcomes

Organizers intend to have a working google documents where conversations will continue after the conference. The inputs will be collated into a policy paper shared with the relevant authorities in affected countries and organizations that are handling ancillary work seeking to wrap a silver lining on the cloud that the internet is in resolving conflicts. A social network analysis will map the connections and relationships between stakeholders with diverse experiences in affected countries, to help crisis responders target messaging and reach a wider audience. Hashtags intended to catalog conversations in furtherance of finding solutions and raising awareness will be used.

Hybrid Format: Menti meter and break-out sessions will be used to discuss and show responses. Slides and working live documents will be used. An online timed quiz will be used at the start and beginning to evaluate the session and increase engagement and awareness of participants.