Tunisian civil society groups raised alarms about the spread of disinformation and hate speech during the 2019 elections. These concerns centered around the legal and technical obstacles faced by Tunisian civil society actors monitoring elections on social media. We interviewed civil society leaders and digital rights activists in Tunisia to learn about the kinds of limitations they encountered when observing the Tunisian elections. We conclude that: (1) Tunisian civil society groups were concerned about the spread of disinformation online but efforts to monitor social media were limited and not coordinated between groups; (2) the Facebook ad library was of limited use to Tunisian observers because the library does not archive electoral or political ads in Tunisia; (3) the limited access to Facebook data was a significant obstacle for Tunisian social media observers, leading them to rely upon manual data gathering, and compounded by the unavailability of data collection tools such as CrowdTangle to many civil society groups; (4) Tunisian laws around data privacy and election regulations are insufficient for a democratic society in the digital age.
Mona Elswah & Philip N. Howard. “The Challenges of Monitoring Social Media in the Arab World: The Case of the 2019 Tunisian Elections.” Data Memo 2020.1. Oxford, UK: Project on Computational Propaganda. comprop.oii.ox.ac.uk