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June/July 2019


Cover story



10 Manipulating truth Did the president really say that? James Ball

How to rein in the web of lies Emily Taylor

Harnessing technology to revitalize democracy

Hans Kundnani

18 Interview Caroline Criado Perez warns that the absence of women from Big Data is endangering their lives 22 Middle East Stalemate in Tripoli Tim Eaton and Emadeddin Badi Saving Syria’s broken children A doctor’s account Iraq banks its future on the Qi Card Ahmed Tabaqchali Al-Qaeda softens its tone but still wants blood Mina al-Lami 32 Southeast Asia Spreading a creed of hate thy neighbour Michael Vatikiotis 36 Latin America ‘Brazil First’ simply won’t work Kai Enno Lehmann 38 Africa After the cyclones Bob Dewar Idai destroyed everything in her path Bruno Mourinho 42 Diplomatic cant How ‘international community’ has lost its meaning Bernd Debusmann 44 Balkans China’s inroads into Europe Amine Bennis

4 Contributors 5 The world in brief including Jargonbuster, shorts and international events 40 Date with history July , The birth of the Walkman Dorian Lynskey 44 Review War zone optimism Burhan Wazir Persuasion in print John Rentoul Reading list on Algeria Nabila Ramdani 50 Culture notes Q&A with Catherine Fieschi

Cover by George Wylesol

From the Editor Until recently the idea of regulating the internet was a heresy. Silicon Valley insisted that the web had to be free – and western politicians generally bought the libertarian argument. That has changed. Now we know how deeply the online sphere is polluted with damaging fakery at election time. In our cover story, James Ball sounds the alarm over the next stage in the web of lies, videos known as ‘deepfakes’ in which anyone can be convincingly made to say just about anything. Without swift action, the future may be one where no one believes anything online. Emily Taylor looks at the huge challenge of individual states regulating a global network. It will not be easy, she says, but the time has come for the state to find ways to protect its citizens from online harm.

Hate speech also features in Michael Vatikiotis’s article on Southeast Asia (page ). The region seems to be blessed with all the qualities needed for a bright future, but the rise of identity politics is undermining that. From Indonesia to Myanmar, relations between Buddhists and Muslims are soured by politicians seeking easy slogans to win votes.

On the Middle East, Tim Eaton and Emadeddin Badi explain (page ) why a political deal in April to end eight years of war in Libya suddenly collapsed, leaving the foreign powers with interests in the country divided and confused.

On page we report a rare sign of progress from Iraq. With its infrastructure still in ruins, millions of Iraqis now have access to electronic banking thanks to a homegrown start-up.

Our interview is with Caroline Criado Perez who discusses how women are harmed by being absent or underrepresented in the data that drives decisions big and small, from why they make certain transport decisions to misdiagnosis of, often fatal, illnesses. Alan Philps


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