Media Data & Privacy

Reporters Without Borders unlocks news with lottery numbers in latest anti-censorship push

By John Glenday | Reporter

Reporters Without Borders


censorship article

March 11, 2022 | 4 min read

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and DDB have teamed up to combat censorship in oppressive states amid an information war conducted by the Russian state in its invasion of Ukraine by subverting national lotteries using Twitter.

Recognizing the importance of finding truth online, the creative campaign enables citizens of Russia, Turkey and Brazil to simply type the numbers for their national lotteries into Twitter to be presented with ‘The Truth Wins’ account. It builds upon previous award-winning campaigns in Minecraft and Spotify.

Staying one step ahead of national censorship laws, the system enables journalists to circumvent takedown requests from governments by collating social media accounts belonging to independent journalists in one place, accessible via the lottery code number.


The system enables journalists to circumvent takedown requests from governments

This is achieved by embedding regularly-updated live lottery numbers throughout the Twitter accounts to evade keyword search blocks.

While oppressive governments can issue formal takedown requests for specific individuals, the process takes time, meaning RSF can simply switch the targeted accounts in the meantime while retaining its authority through the use of the lottery code.

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The service is reliant on Twitter’s continued operation in oppressed states, with Russia already taking steps to block the platform as part of its information war. As of now though restricted access is still possible, albeit with sluggish response times.

Outlining the steps being taken to ensure continued availability of independent information in Russia, RSF said that it is “... working constantly to mirror entire media websites that are censored in Russia to move them to new servers, thus uncensoring them and making them accessible again. A list with links to mirrored independent sources will be available through a blockchain-based DNS-domain link. This access link cannot be censored.”

RSF has previously fought fake news, arguing that misleading information undermines democracies. Check out the previous campaigns here.

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