Official Request ..How does social media provide world’s governments with your data?

Category: Best data-driven reporting (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: Egypt

Organisation: masrawy.com

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 15/04/2019

Credit: Investigative: Maha Salaheldin draw: Sahar Issa Graphic: Ahmed Yassin Video: Ahmed Abdel-Ghani Infographic: Michael Adel Video: Nassim Abdel-Fattah Editing: Ahmed Abdel Shafie Programming: Mohamed Ezzat General supervision: Alaa Al-Ghatrifi

Project description:

An international investigation with an international dimension that reveals, through international data and communications to the most important telecommunications companies in the world, how social media sites deliver their users ’data to the world’s governments, how the world codified these practices, and what are internationalist moves against them.

Impact reached:

Primarily, the awareness of more than 3.196 billion people with an account – at least – on a social networking site, which prompted daily new discoveries about the leak of user data.

In addition to the major communications companies apologies to its users. And their officials stand against international courts before the world.

Techniques/technologies used:

The data was the main pillar of the investigation .. As it was through the reports it obtained, it was able to draw a complete picture of how telecommunications companies and social media collaborate with governments to deliver user data and its mechanism.

At first, I had to clean that complex data, via the open refine program, then format it and analyze it on Microsoft Excel, and keep copies on Google Spread Sheet.

As for visual representation, it was its main pillar, interactive maps of the world, to show the variation in the numbers of requests, the numbers of activists’ accounts, and the percentage of response to them, through the Tableau Public program.

In addition to graphical analysis via popular programming languages, CSS, javascript, 5 HTML, etc., the TimeLine drawing for analysis is also included.

We designed the investigation in the form of the most popular social media pages and designed the data in formats that fit like gifs.

And we added interactive games to break the deadlock of that data-busted investigation.

Our types of data display between graphs, images of various kinds, and video graphics, and others.

We designed the homepage in the form of cartoons expressing the story.


What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part at first was finding hard evidence to build the investigation, and the data listed in places unknown to social media itself were the best evidence.

But they put it in a complicated form, not at all irregular, I was not adept at the time cleaning the data, it took me months, until I discovered the specialized programs in this.

Hence, I started building the investigation, through research, and attempts to reach officials within those companies.

The hardest part was the official responses, which I was able to get after months.

Then came the design, which was repeated more than once to reach the current look.

What can others learn from this project?

Open source is full of treasures that once we dusted off them we found interesting stories.

How to tell a complex story in an interesting way as well, and that data can be a source that answers questions that no living source can answer.

Then you put these facts in front of officials and receive the other side of the truth, because at that time there is no place for diplomatic answers.

It is the language of facts!

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