Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Stepping Up Online Activism in Iraq

Trainings focus on safety, content and optimising social media impact
By IWPR contributor
  • Workshops focused on learning new social media skills. (Photo: IWPR Iraq)
    Workshops focused on learning new social media skills. (Photo: IWPR Iraq)
  • Participants discovered how to maximise their impact online. (Photo: IWPR Iraq)
    Participants discovered how to maximise their impact online. (Photo: IWPR Iraq)

Iraqi journalists, activists and NGO workers have gained essential multimedia and cyber security skills thanks to workshops held by IWPR’s Baghdad office.

The trainings also saw 60 participants learn about communication strategy and how to best use social media to combat extremist thought.

“The training made me look at my smartphone in whole new way; it can completely replace a professional camera. Also, I am now analyzing each professional picture I see,” said Shahd Sami, a 25-year-old trainee.

The three courses, held on January 22-30, focused on helping Iraqi citizens express themselves through solid, credible content published on social media platforms to promote civil values and counter extremism.

They were equipped with the ability to play an increasingly important role in shaping public opinion and shifting debate towards genuine community needs rather than of narrow ethnic or sectarian agendas.

Digital security training also gave activists the skills necessary to ensure their online accounts, data, and devices were protected from potential cyber threats.

“As civil activists, we mainly rely on social media platforms to spread our ideas; and a lack of awareness about digital security subjects our privacy and personal safety to risks,” said Safa Abdul-Kareem Najaf, a 23-year-old trainee.

Participants also gained valuable insights into the social media sphere, specifically in Iraq, and acquired the skills necessary to run effective advocacy campaigns using minimal resources.

“I learned how to manage my page, promote it and monitor its performance,” said Nada Talib, a 44-year-old trainee. “I am now aware of techniques on using multiple social media platforms simultaneously, in order to cascade my message.

“We were also given guidance on personal branding, and how best to package our online public image.”

“The Baghdad training was characterised by the participants’ determination to learn and acquire information, as manifested by their willingness to stay beyond the end of the training hours each day,” concluded digital security trainer Mohammed Al-Maskati.

IWPR has been working in Iraq since 2003 to support a free and responsible media and an effective and active civil society.

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