Effective Utilization of AI Policy Development to Address Media-Amplified Instances of TFGBV

The second session of the Webinar Series on how Media Misrepresentation amplifies Technology Facilitated Gender-based Violence (TFGBV) was held on July 5, 2024 and it was themed, “How Can We Effectively Utilize Artificial Intelligence (AI) Policy Development to Address Media-Amplified Instances of Technology-Facilitated GBV?”. This discussion brought together an array of experts from the fields of Media, Technology, Research and Digital Rights Moderated by Imani Henrick Luvanga, a Digital Rights and Gender Justice Advocate and the Founder and Host of the “Dig it With Imani” Podcast.

The session featured insights from prominent voices in the industry namely, Cynthis Bavo, Pauline Okoth, Zaituni Njovu, and Florence Majani. It was made possible by Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) in collaboration with Zaina Foundation, Jamii Media, Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) and Dig it With Imani Podcast, which will air the recorded discussion through it’s podcast.

Tech and Media Convergency
A panel discussants on the topic, “How Can We Effectively Utilize AI Policy Development to Address Media-Amplified Instances of Technology-Facilitated GBV?”
The Role of AI in Reporting Instances of OGBV

Florence Majani, an Investigative Journalist and Head of the Communication Unit at TAMWA, highlighted the dual nature of technological advancement.  Florence shared that, “Technology has been growing rapidly and more technological tools are emerging that have both positive and negative impacts, these technological tools can be used to assist in the fight to combat OGBV”. We live in an era that has  a lot of technological tools including AI that can be used to perform intensive research and get important details such as the rates of OGBV in both local and international aspects. AI can provide us with content and information on OGBV which can help in formulation of  ways on how to tackle this issue.

Florence emphasized that AI could be leveraged to perform extensive research, providing critical insights into the prevalence of online gender-based violence (OGBV) both locally and globally. By synthesizing data, AI can inform strategies to combat TFGBV effectively. Majani also noted AI’s potential to facilitate international learning and collaboration. By examining how other nations address TFGBV, Tanzania can adopt best practices and tailor them to its unique context. For instance, Rwanda’s success in combating TFGBV through a gender-balanced parliamentary representation offers a valuable model.

Her contributions reminds us of the ability of AI to analyze large datasets quickly and accurately enables the identification of patterns and trends that might otherwise go unnoticed, thereby enhancing the efficacy of interventions. AI’s role in facilitating cross-border knowledge exchange underscores the importance of a collaborative approach to tackling TFGBV, allowing for the adaptation of successful strategies from other regions. However, this also necessitates a robust framework for ethical AI use to ensure that the technology’s deployment respects privacy and mitigates potential biases in data interpretation.

How Can AI-Driven Technologies be Designed to Protect the Privacy and Security of OGBV Victims Policies

Zaituni Njovu, a Digital Rights and Artificial Intelligence Expert and the Executive Director of Zaina Foundation, stated that in terms of privacy and security of TFGBV, AI has its challenges. “We need to have data minimization in AI tools because right now it is collecting a lot of data, some of which is unnecessary, causing misinformation and infringing on the privacy and security of TFGBV victims”, Zaituni further explained that, “There should be anonymization of personal information of OGBV victims; information such as names, institutions associated with the victim, and parents and relatives of that victim should remain anonymous to avoid more GBV that will keep escalating to that person even outside the internet”.

She emphasized how challenging is it for the victims stating that, when an TFGBV victim reports these incidents to the authorities, such as police stations, the information that she provides is not rendered private and therefore it is not protected as it should. In terms of privacy and security, user consent and control are still very big challenges because the AI system depends on the information found online (in the database) to work effectively. Once a person shares certain information, there is no room to completely delete or restrict that information. That means we have no consent or control of our data once it has been shared online.

Her perspective also a huge component of Zaina Foundation highlights a critical paradox in the deployment of AI technologies for TFGBV victims – while AI can offer powerful tools for combating and reporting violence, it simultaneously poses significant risks to victim privacy and data security. The principle of data minimization is paramount, as it ensures that only essential data is collected, thereby reducing the risk of privacy breaches. Anonymization is another crucial safeguard, protecting victims from further harm by obscuring their identities in digital records.

The persistent challenge of maintaining user consent and control over personal data highlights on the need for robust, user-centric data governance frameworks. As AI systems rely heavily on vast amounts of data to function effectively, balancing the benefits of AI with the ethical imperative to protect individual privacy remains a complex but essential task. It is why the agenda is significantly important for TMC and calls for an ongoing dialogue between technologists, policymakers, and human rights advocates to develop AI systems that are both effective and respectful of the fundamental rights of TFGBV victims.

Leveraging AI to Enhance Media Organizations Reporting OGBV in an Ethical Manner

Pauline Okoth an Independent Media Consultant from Uganda,  pointed out that leveraging AI can significantly improve the quality of reports on OGBV by enhancing research capabilities. “We are transitioning from basic search engines like Google to AI search tools such as ChatGPT, which can provide more comprehensive and faster reports. This reduces the need to read multiple articles and reports to find the necessary information. By using AI, we can enhance the quality of media research,” she explained.

She emphasized that, when it comes to TFGBV involving nudity, the media often lacks the capacity to verify whether images or videos are real or fake, particularly in this era of AI deep fakes. The media faces the challenge of not dedicating enough time to research the validity of the said videos or images. This is to say that the media prioritizes breaking the news to the public, especially when prominent women are involved, rather than ensuring the accuracy of the content. There is a great need for the media to start leveraging AI tools that can help verify whether an image is real or fake, as these tools are already available, this raises the question of whether media practitioners are aware of the technological changes and IT advancements happening around them which brings us to the fact that media practitioners need to educate themselves on the basics and seriousness of TFGBV.

These insights reveal the transformative potential of AI in enhancing the ethical standards of media reporting on TFGBV. By leveraging AI tools, media organizations can significantly improve the accuracy and depth of their reports, ensuring that information is both comprehensive and reliable. This is especially critical in an age where deepfakes and other forms of digital manipulation can easily distort the truth. AI’s capability to swiftly analyze vast amounts of data can help journalists verify the authenticity of images and videos, thus preventing the spread of misinformation.

However, it is important to note that the effectiveness of these tools depends on the awareness and education of media practitioners about the latest technological advancements. Without adequate training and a deep understanding of OGBV’s implications, the media risks perpetuating harm rather than mitigating it. Therefore, ongoing education and awareness-raising within the media sector are crucial to ensure that AI is used ethically and effectively, amplifying truthful narratives and protecting the dignity of TFGBV victims.

Role of Policy Development in Guiding Ethical Use of AI in the Media (Guiding OGBV)

Cynthia Bavo a Media and Tech Development Specialist, the Head of Digital Native Media at Jamii Media; emphasized that the role of policy development in ensuring the ethical use of AI in media is relatively small. She argued that, “As much as it it’s important to have laws and policies that govern an monitor ethical use of AI it is almost impossible for the media sector to focus fully on it while they re facing crucial issues such as media viability and sustainability within their media houses, which in turn leads to low pay to journalists. A lack of reliable income and revenue in the sector is in most cases is the root cause of all these unethical AI facilitated OGBV news.”

She added that unethical AI use in media reflects broader societal issues, such as the challenges journalists face in making a living, the way society views women, and the representation of women in technology. While developing policies is important, Cynthia stressed the need to address these underlying issues directly first.

In her views, she stressed that the whole business and revenue modal of media needs to be addressed, it will solve a lot of challenges including TFGBV, currently in the media landscape. As long as journalists are poorly paid, they will continue be driven by what gives them income and not what they quality of what they are reporting. So, when it comes to developing policies that guide the ethical use of AI, inclusion of women remains one of the biggest challenges in the media sector and AI in general. There are very few women in decision-making positions in the media, resulting in limited positive coverage of women. Additionally, the participation of women in AI is generally low worldwide, although there is a promising rise of women in AI in Tanzania. The media sector in Tanzania is one of the most heavily regulated, which also raises concerns about media freedom.

Such observations showcases the interconnectedness of ethical AI use in media and broader systemic issues within the journalism profession. While policy development is crucial for setting standards and guidelines, its effectiveness is limited without addressing fundamental problems such as low journalist wages and societal attitudes towards women. Financial instability an aspect that Jamii Media is tackling in the media sector drives a focus on sensationalism and monetization, often at the expense of ethical considerations. The lack of women in decision-making roles exacerbates the issue, leading to insufficient coverage and understanding of OGBV. Therefore, comprehensive solutions must encompass policy reform, economic incentives, and efforts to increase female representation in media and AI to foster an environment where ethical use of AI can thrive and effectively combat OGBV.

Keeping the conversation live

One common view shared by all speakers is that that the misuse of AI in facilitating OGBV is rooted in societal attitudes towards gender-based violence. Raising awareness and fostering societal change are crucial to preventing AI from amplifying existing TFGBV issues. Comprehensive AI policies, coupled with societal education and systemic support for media practitioners, are essential to leveraging AI’s potential while safeguarding against its misuse.

TMC is dedicated at creating an awareness through conversations and collaborations with organizations and actors that align with in core values. This was the second session of the AI and Media Webinar Series, the first was themed, “Unveiling Impact: How Media Misrepresentation Fuels Technology Facilitated GBV“. By harnessing AI’s capabilities and addressing the underlying systemic issues, we can develop effective strategies to combat OGBV and promote ethical AI use in media.

To learn more on the Women at Web Program – https://linktr.ee/WomenAtWebTZ