Social Media Monitoring (SMM)

SMM offers opportunities for the aid sector to better understand the operating environment by knowing what people say and express on social media in a context social media is playing an increasingly relevant role in conflict-affected countries.

For Insecurity Insight, social media is both a challenge and a tool in risk management: on the one hand, social media allows for disinformation and other forms of harm to spread faster and wider, but on the other hand it allows aid workers to have a better understanding of the environment in which they operate. 

Insecurity Insight looks at social media from an aid security perspective. We examine social media data to identify when social media platforms are used to incite violence against aid providers (see here for an example of social media users inciting violence online) or to spread false information that can be used to incite violence (see here for an example of deliberate spreading of disinformation about aid workers in a conflict area).

During the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ebola outbreak, health providers have been particularly affected by disinformation spreading through social media channels. In some conflicts, such as Sudan or Syria, aid efforts are often politicised on social media. 

Relying on proprietary technology powered by an AI tool to collect social media data, Insecurity Insight also conducts sentiment analysis on subjects related to aid, including aid organisations or programmes. Sentiment analysis tends to consist of a quantitative snapshot of opinions or beliefs held by civilians or beneficiaries located in the relevant humanitarian or conflict zones. This allows aid organisations to better assess the possible magnitude of positive or negative sentiment towards their programmes or teams operating in the area. In a report published in September 2023, Insecurity Insight found that most Syrian social media users were against the opening of border crossings for aid to pass through, mainly because of beliefs widely held by users that the aid passing through the border crossings mostly benefits officials close to the government. 

Understanding the changing security context is important for duty of care for staff and access to beneficiaries. 

What We Do

Insecurity Insight provides regular analyses using public social media data from open platforms in the Middle East and Africa with a specific focus on sentiment analysis as well as disinformation and misinformation trends concerning the aid sector and how these may translate into incitement to violence against aid providers and the aid sector more widely. 

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SMM for the Aid Sector

In many conflict-affected countries, concerns and hopes are increasingly also expressed on social media. While public social media predominantly reflects the opinions of the self-selected influencers and is not necessarily representative, it is becoming increasingly important to identify growing negative sentiments towards aid programmes as well as minority groups.

Adverse attitudes towards the aid sector can be expressed in the form of ‘anti-foreigner’ feelings or opposition to specific activities such as vaccinations or ‘western secular education’. It may also focus on deliberately spreading false accusations. Some of the false information may be the expression of local belief systems. In other cases, it can’t be ruled out that external parties may have an interest in supporting the spread of false information.

Social media is used by individuals who express personal opinions but also by organized groups from within and outside of the affected countries.

What we do

What we do

Insecurity Insight provides regular updates on information from social media from open platforms in the Eastern DRC and some surrounding African countries with a specific focus on information related to public health emergencies such as Ebola and COVID-19 and how rumours and misinformation may translate into incitement to violence against health care providers and the aid sector more widely.

We have received support from Standby Task force and pro bono support from Novetta,


Ebola Response in Kivus

Ebola Response in Kivus

Throughout 2019, Insecurity Insight monitored violence that affected the Ebola response in the Eastern DRC. Read here an overview of the violence affecting the health response in 2019 and see recommendations and full website.

Mozambique during Cyclone Idai

Mozambique during Cyclone Idai

In March and May 2019, we tested how best to use social and local media to keep the aid sector informed about security related developments that could have affected operations with the help from Standby Task Force. Read here the threat analysis based on the examples we identified in Mozambique during the cyclone response.