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Welcome to Thraets

We are a non-profit Civic Tech research lab dedicated to combating digital threats against truth, democracy, and social unity. Across the Global South, democratic processes are a toxic mix between deliberate disinformation, unintentional misinformation, social divisions, and rising polarization. With technological advancements, confronting these digital threats, such as deep fakes and cheap fakes, is becoming more challenging.

Our work addresses societal challenges related to democratic stability, human rights, and ethical technology development in developing nations. We investigate how emerging digital threats, such as synthetic media, surveillance tools, and coordinated or gendered disinformation campaigns, could undermine free and fair elections, amplify hate speech and ethnic tensions, and erode public trust in institutions. Through technical research, policy advocacy, and multi-stakeholder engagement, we aim to anticipate and mitigate these threats before they can be weaponized to destabilize nations.

We explore how technology can protect citizens and societies in the global south.

Mission

To defend truth, democracy, and social cohesion in the global south by countering digital threats through research, open-source solutions, and impactful policy recommendations.

Vision

A future where democratic processes, human rights, and ethical technology development are safeguarded from digital threats across the global majority.

Values

Free and open source software + Open content and open standards + Democratic, accountable and transparent governance + Local initiative and ownership + Social and gender equality Inclusiveness and diversity

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Mercy Owilla Abiro

Research Lead

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Richard Ngamita

Security Researcher

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FOSS Researcher

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Mark Okello

Machine Learning Lead

In collaboration

Mercy Owilla Abiro

Leads our research operations and CSO partnerships.

Mercy has over five years of experience in the CSO sector, specializing in research and coordination across digital and media platforms. She has expertise in research, project management, grant writing, M&E, fundraising, partnership management, digital marketing, and fact-checking, developed through roles at the African Institute for Investigative Journalism (AIIJ) and Whitehead Communications Consult.

Mercy’s commitment to transparency, accountability, and equality, coupled with her passion for journalism, feminism, IT, and community empowerment, makes her a valuable asset in combating misinformation and promoting a just, inclusive world.

Richard Ngamita

Leads our deep digital security research.

Richard is an experienced security researcher focused on influence operations and open-source intelligence. With over 8 years of expertise, he has led technical research under threat intelligence teams at major tech companies like Twitter(X), Facebook (Meta), and Google.

A vocal advocate for data security and combating digital threats, Richard frequently provides training and shares insights through speaking engagements and writings. He has partnered with civil society organizations like Internews and Tactical Tech to promote responsible technology practices, grounded in the global south’s social-cultural context.

Currently, Richard is an advisory board member for the “Digital Democracy Initiative”, a collaboration between Global South civil society, the European Union, and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Joachim Gwoke

Our tech lead and focusses on open source tools.

Joachim is a dedicated free open source software researcher and activist. Specializing in integrating diverse free open source tools and data sources, he applies his expertise to governance, social research, and digital platforms through open collaboration. Joachim has engineered solutions for organizations like AFLI in Uganda, conducting parliamentary audits and policy analysis using FOSS principles.

Passionate about Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), Joachim seamlessly incorporates Unix tools and GIS into projects while actively leading regional OpenStreetMap communities. He champions remote GIS for grassroots initiatives, empowering local communities with open-source data and tools. Joachim’s work blends research with activism, advancing the democratization of knowledge through open source.

Mark Okello

Works on everything to do with Machine Learning.

Mark is a graduate student researcher at Duke University, where he specializes in automated natural language processing (NLP) techniques. At Duke, he develops NLP models and tools to analyze text, audio, and video reflections, with the aim of gaining deeper insights into students’ learning experiences.

In addition to his academic work, Mark serves as our Machine Learning Engineer, playing a crucial role in understanding synthetic and manipulated media techniques used for spreading disinformation, particularly across countries in the global south. His expertise in state-of-the-art machine learning helps identify deepfakes, cheapfakes, and other AI-generated media deployed for nefarious purposes.

Previously, Mark worked as a Healthcare Data Scientist at Benshi AI, focusing on data analytics, survival modeling, and user segmentation based on behavioral mobile app logs. He also has a track record of leadership, having formerly led R programming language meetup groups in his home country of Uganda.