The 8th Edition of the Palestine Digital Activism Forum 2024 Concludes with 1,200 Participants from Across the World


The 8th Edition of the Palestine Digital Activism Forum 2024 Concludes with 1,200 Participants from Across the World

June 6, 2024, 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, concluded the eighth edition of the Palestine Digital Activism Forum (PDAF) for this year on Wednesday evening. The forum, titled "Artificial Intelligence (AI): Revolutionary Promises & Discriminatory Realities," was held virtually over two days. The forum was attended by more than 1200 participants from around the world. It hosted 70 speakers, and saw collaboration with 50 partner organizations from around the world. Participants gathered in an open space for critical discussions and learning, coming up with ideas and proposals on how the development of AI must align with human rights standards, guaranteeing a safe, fair, and free digital space for everyone.

This year, the forum's diverse policy and dialogue sessions shed light on the state of Palestinian digital rights, especially during the escalating war on Gaza since October 7, 2023. The sessions discussed numerous issues facing Palestinian digital rights, the various impacts of AI, and the ways it can be harnessed for advocacy, community benefit and social change. The forum hosted several guests on its first day. Those included the independent journalist and author of the book "Palestine Laboratory: How Israel Exports the Technology of Occupation Around the World'' Antony Loewenstein, the Palestinian Minister of Telecommunications & Digital Economy, Dr. Abdul Razzaq Al-Natsheh, who spoke about the severe crisis faced by Palestinians and the rebuilding of the communications sector in Gaza, Dr. Timnit Gebru, founder and executive director of the Distributed AI Research Institute (DAIR), and Sam Gregory, executive director of WITNESS, who gave an intervention on the WITNESS initiative "Prepare, Don’t Panic" on deceptive AI and deepfakes and the necessary steps to safeguard the truth and harness AI for the benefit of communities in accordance with global human rights.

Additionally, the annual award for the best digital activism of 2023 was announced, shared by the "Untold Palestine" initiative, which launched a digital series titled "We Are Not Numbers", to document the stories of Palestinian victims murdered during the war on Gaza, and the "Filastiniyat" organization, which launched the “Gaza Speaks” campaign from the early days of the genocide in Gaza, producing hundreds of stories and reports about the massacres, famine and tragic displacement conditions, focusing on the stories of women, journalists and medical workers.

On the second day of the forum, 14 workshops were held in parallel throughout the day, with two workshops every hour. The workshops covered various topics, including the use of AI tools to collect and control data in a way that better responds to the needs of the community and its civil organizations, leveraging AI to improve project development to adapt to the changing needs of the community, the importance of cooperation to combat misinformation about the war in Gaza, the essential techniques for effective information verification and open-source intelligence to ensure accuracy and reliability in research, how to utilize digital advancement to achieve justice and positive change, how to use these tools to uncover war crimes, mobilize and disseminate important information under oppressive regimes, and increasing awareness about the use of social media intelligence and how governments and private companies use this technology to target human rights defenders, journalists and political opponents.

The Palestine Digital Activism Forum 2024 successfully brought together  a group of experts, activists, and defenders of Palestinian digital rights from around the world, where discussions focused on the negative impacts of AI and ways to combat them, and how to utilize AI to defend digital rights and change policies.

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