Mar 25 2021
Past event

The role of social media companies in managing content that harms human rights

The Universal Rights Group in cooperation with Facebook will organise a digital event on Thursday 25 March at 16h00 CET to present and consider the new Corporate Human Rights Policy, to discuss the human rights responsibilities of social media companies, and to continue the dialogue between States, social media and other technology companies, UN experts and civil society, on how to promote and protect the full enjoyment of human rights in the digital world.

Human rights are increasingly exercised and/or violated in the digital space – a trend that has only intensified during the current global health pandemic.

One aspect of this is the increasingly critical role digital technology is playing in the functioning of democracy, the conduct of elections, and the enjoyment of civil and political rights. Such technology, including social media, can be wielded either for good or for ill in a democracy, including in the context of elections. On the negative side, disinformation can be used to confuse or manipulate voters; stolen personal data can be used to launch micro-targeted campaigns that seek to stoke grievance or incite hatred and violence, and digital technology can provide a platform or ‘entryway’ for foreign interference in democratic polls. On the positive side, technology can help improve the transparency of, and trust in, electoral processes; while social media can help ‘open up’ democratic institutions and decisions – making them more accessible and responsive to the electorate.

This ‘new normal’ has brought intensified scrutiny of social media companies and their efforts to tackle such serious challenges to the enjoyment of human rights in the digital sphere, while also fully respecting legitimate free speech and other important rights such as freedom of association and of assembly.

As part of its own efforts to ensure that its platforms are used to promote human rights rather than undermine them, and that its business decisions and practices also respect human rights, over the past year Facebook has elaborated its first-ever Corporate Human Rights Policy. This was launched at an event in California on 16 March.


Welcome by the moderator, Marc LIMON, Executive Director, Universal Rights Group

Presentation of Facebook’s new Human Rights Corporate Policy by Miranda SISSONS, Director of Human Rights, Facebook Inc.

Panel discussion with

  • H.E. Carlos DOMINGUEZ DIAZ, Ambassador, Deputy Permanent Representative of Spain
  • Dr. Ahmed SHAHEED, UN Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Religion or Belief
  • Dr. Eileen DONAHOE, Executive Director, Global Digital Policy Incubator, Stanford University
  • Prof. Lorna McGREGOR, Director, Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project (HRBDT), University of Essex
  • Fatou JAGNE, Regional Director for Senegal and West Africa, Article 19
  • Iain LEVINE, Senior Human Rights Advisor, Facebook Inc.

The moderator will ask each of the panellist one or two short questions after which they will be invited to respond to questions and comments posted by the audience in the Zoom chat.

Q & A Session


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  • Mar 25th 2021
  • 16:00 - 17:30
  • Public event