Statement on Russia’s illegitimate invasion of Ukraine, and the rise of disinformation around the world

The scenes of destruction and death out of Ukraine are alarming and disturbing. We, like so many around the world, are terribly saddened and trying to figure out how we can help.

Our mission is to hold powers to account by supporting whistleblowers who bravely come forward with critical information for the public good. We work with whistleblowers who have shared revelations of wrongdoing with investigative journalists. Accountability hinges on the ability for whistleblowers to come forward safely and for journalists to report on hidden wrongdoing without retribution. This critical system is broken around the world because potential whistleblowers fear for their lives and press freedoms are in retreat.

The issue around disinformation is blindingly obvious in the Russian aggression. But it is insidious in other parts of the world as well, especially where social media platforms continue to allow its spread. In eastern Europe, disinformation on social platforms is sowing discontent and falsehoods, in Ethiopia it is fueling hatred, resulting in protracted conflict and displacement of millions. In Myanmar, the hatred toward Rohingyas has flown free on Facebook for years, under the radar in Burmese. The role of Facebook (now Meta) is finally being more properly exposed; the company finally has acknowledged that it was used to foment division and incite violence against the Rohingya.

We are not currently working directly in Russia and Ukraine to protect whistleblowers and investigative journalists there, but a number of our partners are actively and bravely trying to expose wrongdoing and fight against the barrage of disinformation that was the catalyst for this war. We amplify their voices and assist as we can. They include Bellingcat keeping up with investigations, OCCRP reporting on seizure of oligarch assets, and RSF/Reporters without Borders opening an Lviv office to support press freedom. Please follow them and, if you can, donate to them so the thin line of accountability they hold does not snap.

Meanwhile, we are continuing our work to hold Big Tech to account for disinformation, misuse of data, violations of privacy, and poor tech worker conditions in other parts of the world. Ultimately, holding Big Tech to account globally, especially through exposure of wrongdoing and hardened regulations in the countries of origin, will help. Learn more about our Tech Accountability Project here.

A statement of support for Ukraine, written in relatively safe western Europe, feels almost trite. But we hope that our work with so many incredible journalists, whistleblowers and civil society organizations throughout the world, will contribute to a safer and more just world.

Published On: March 24, 2022By