For the final day of the WEASA core sessions, participants learned all about digital security. This included an introduction to encrypted messaging, secure browsing, and overall security practices. The afternoon session included a long discussion on the ways in which we pick our digital security tools and services. What does trust mean? What questions can we ask to gauge the reputation of an organisation or company that creates security-oriented products and services? Participants compiled a potential list of questions they could ask when conducting due diligence of security products and used it to assess several well-known services.Read More
On the fifth day of WEASA, participants met up with Dr Nad’a Kovalčíková, who currently works at the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the Brussels offices of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. This gave them a great chance to learn more about the fight against state-based disinformation, authoritarian interference, and the steps that we can take to make our societies more resilient to such threats.
The first part of the day consisted of a lecture, which gave a thorough theoretical introduction to the topic, combined with a Q&A session. In the latter half, participants took part in a workshop discussion, looking at the various ways in which they could strengthen their respective societies as to make them less vulnerable to disinformation and other forms of interference.Read More
On the fourth day of WEASA 2020, participants had the chance to meet with Rana Sabbagh, an experienced investigative journalist and co-founder of ARIJ. Much of the day consisted of deep conversations about the role investigative journalism plays in our modern society. Participants shared stories of investigations that had a big impact on them, and discussed the realities of journalism in their home countries.
In the afternoon session, Rana and the participants held a longer discussion on what legal, political, economic, and social preconditions a society must meet to create a thriving journalistic environment. They also looked at the differences between investigative and conventional journalism, discussing how the former can prove much more difficult but also yield huge benefits for society.Read More
Day three at WEASA focused on geolocation, verification, and fact-checking. Participants met with Myriam Redondo, who taught them about tools such as reverse image searches, analysing online maps, terrain maps, satellite imagery, and more.
The first part of the day consisted of a series of talks about tools. During the afternoon workshop, participants received a single image of an event that was recently featured on the news and were asked to, using the tools they learned about in the morning, answer a series of questions about it, including the position of the photographer, location of the image, and the event during which it was taken.Read More
On Monday, July 6th, WEASA 2020 featured Jillian C York. Jillian, currently based at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is one of the world’s leading experts on free expression online, focusing particularly on social media moderation. That day’s WEASA session looked at how social media companies decide which content to take down and which should stay up, and what role national laws and social norms play therein. Participants also had a chance to share examples of content takedowns from their own countries while also looking at several case studies of materials that were deleted by leading social media platforms, discussing whether or not such removal was legitimate.Read More
After a lengthy selection process, we have selected the winners of the WEASA 2019 small grants programme! The following projects will receive funding:
- An analysis of Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Campaign within the framework of 2019 Parliamentary Election and Union State integration processes in Belarus
- The publishing of a textbook entitled Soft Power in International Relations
- Publicising and translating a handbook on Increasing Societal Resilience by Awareness Raising about Hostile Narratives
- A research project on e-participation in Ukraine, its current state and perspectives
- A nationwide cybersecurity training project for high school and university students
- A research project providing a critical overview of counter-disinformation campaigns in Western Balkans
The WEASA small grants programme began last year. Alumni of the summer are encouraged to think of after-projects they can implement in their home countries and which are related to the main WEASA curriculum. The programme has been an overwhelming success, having led to the establishment of high-profile projects such as a counter-disinformation NGO.Read More
We hit the ground running in week two. Miranda Spivack, a Fulbright Scholar and investigative journalist who worked at outlets such as the Washington Post, provided us with an in-depth view of journalism in the 21st century. We talked about how to best tackle the scourge of disinformation and fake news and improve the quality and funding of journalism in our home countries.
By the second day of the second week, we continued our foray into investigative journalism. Julia Bayer, from DW and @Quiztime, walked us through a series of geolocation and online verification techniques. What type of information can we find by digging through public social media feeds? How can we figure out the location at which a satellite image was taken?
Finally, we finished off the summer school with a deep dive into digital security. Participants met Michał Czesiek Czyżewski, who led sessions on privacy, encryption, and security. We studied how we can best understand our own threat models and how best to browse and message in a secure and private manner.Read More
WEASA 2019’s first week has officially come to an end!
We begun the week with a discussion with Dariusz Jemielniak, a Fulbright Program Alumnus and Full Professor of Management at Koźmiński University. Talks focused primarily on the wider relationship between humans and technology – to what degree will technology transform our lives in the coming decades? What will stay the same? We looked at a wide range of topics and case studies, including the power of big tech firms such as Amazon.
The topic of big tech continued to feature on day two. There, our inaugural lecture – presented by Ryan Heath from POLITICO Europe – touched upon the power of digital giants and what steps we can take to regulate them. We followed this topic to the HubHub startup and coworking space, talking about startups and the Polish tech scene in general. Day two was, however, a long day: we finished with a deep look at disinformation operations in Poland and beyond, presented by Anna Mierzyńska.
Then, the focus shifted a little. We began to talk about AI and algorithms on day 3. Lindsay Graham, from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, asked us to consider what an algorithm is and how it functions. What impact do they have on our modern information infrastructure? Can they exacerbate radicalisation, polarisation, and extremism? And what can we do to fight back against such risks?
We had heated discussions about algorithms. Then, we ended up having an even bigger debate on social media moderation, asking ourselves what content should stay up on social networks and what should be removed. Jillian C York, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, led the sessions on day four.
On the fifth day, we all broke out into smaller workshop groups for our soft skills workshops. Those looked at social media, debating, and negotiations skills.
We closed the week with a chilled out session, in which we roamed around the main atrium of our hall of residence, examining the Tactical Tech Glass Room Exhibition and talking about data privacy in the 21st century.Read More