Who controls ‘town square’: amidst a public health crisis, India battles social media companies to curb dissent

by Danica Damplo, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Universal Rights Group NYC

Amidst the collapse of the public health system in India and an atmospheric rise in COVID-19 cases, social media platforms became ‘town squares’; centres of desperate coordination for supplies as well as outlets for growing frustration at the government’s failure to prevent thousands of deaths. The Government of Narendra Modi has in turn pressured social media companies to block posts and remove …

Trump, Facebook, democracy and rights: ‘how to handle free speech in an age of information chaos’

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Bajo la lupa: democracia, Blog, Blog, Uncategorized @lac

Writing in the Guardian on 5 May, Alan Rusbridger, a former newspaper editor and now member of the Facebook Oversight Board, set out in stark terms the dilemma facing the Board as it reviewed the social media giant’s decision, last January, to ban then President Donald Trump from its platform. ‘On 6 January, he was the president of the United States: probably …

Recent US report of Russian election interference reveals how disinformation can exploit existing divides to erode trust in democracy

by Amanda Gu, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Universal Rights Group NYC

On 16 March 2021, the US National Intelligence Council released a declassified report detailing what they found to be the extent of Russian interference in the 2020 US Presidential Election. US President Joe Biden issued a strong rebuke and one month later on 15 April his administration announced sanctions and other retributory measures. According to the report, Russian disinformation campaigns aimed …

How do you solve a problem like WhatsApp? The complicated role of messaging apps in the fight against disinformation and for free speech

by Tess Kidney Bishop, Universal Rights Group NYC Asuntos contemporáneos y emergentes, Blog, Blog, Universal Rights Group NYC

Much of the debate around the spread of misinformation and online harassment has been focused on the biggest social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and, more recently, TikTok. Messaging apps, like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat, and the increasingly popular Telegram and Signal, have nearly as many users as these platforms and are also rife with disinformation, hate …

Facebook vs. Australia–the latest dispute over the digital space

by Amanda Gu, Universal Rights Group NYC Asuntos contemporáneos y emergentes, Blog, Blog, Universal Rights Group NYC

On 18 February, after three years of negotiations over the Australian Media Bargaining Code, Facebook took the controversial decision of implementing a broad ban on all Australian publishers and prevented people in Australia from viewing or posting links to news stories . The ban lasted five days, and was only lifted after the Australian government made concessions. This ongoing disagreement between Facebook and the Australian government is only the latest in …

New corporate ‘Treaty Body’ gears up to consider Facebook’s decision to bar Donald Trump

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Asuntos contemporáneos y emergentes, Blog, Blog

As reported in the New York Times , its members include two people who were reportedly on presidential shortlists for the US Supreme Court, a Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate, a British Pulitzer Prize winner, a former UN Special Rapporteur, Colombia’s leading human rights lawyer, and a former prime minister of Denmark. Welcome to the Facebook Oversight Board, operational since October 2020 (Mark …

Incitement and insurrection in the US underscore need for universal norms on hate speech and disinformation in the digital age

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group and Amanda Gu, Universal Rights Group NYC Asuntos contemporáneos y emergentes, Blog, Blog

The attack on the United States Capitol on 6 January was live streamed on every major internet platform , an act of violence recorded and organised online. Digital technology companies quickly suspended related accounts, adding to a global debate on the parameters of freedom of expression in the digital realm. Given the gravity of the situation — the fact that social media was used in the attempted …

Advertisers and social media companies strike a deal to address harmful content

by Aurore Lentz, Universal Rights Group Asuntos contemporáneos y emergentes, Blog, Blog

Following months of negotiations, the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM), a consortium of companies including major brands of consumer goods and media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google, reached an agreement earlier this trimester to adopt a common framework on harmful content in the context of advertisement. By defining sensitive or harmful content in a unified manner across the industry, this agreement would make …

For 18% of Americans social media is their main source of news – what does this mean for the presidential elections?

by Danica Damplo, Universal Rights Group NYC Bajo la lupa: democracia, Blog, Blog, Universal Rights Group NYC

On 30 July, the Pew Research Center released a report that revealed that one in five Americans use social media for their primary source of news. This report comes at a time of both an intense news cycle, dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and a fast approaching US presidential election, and when social media usage is at an all-time high . It …

‘The stakes couldn’t be higher’: social media, disinformation, and the survival of democracy

by Danica Damplo, Universal Rights Group NYC Asuntos contemporáneos y emergentes, Blog, Blog, Universal Rights Group NYC

On 11 June United States Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden posted the following tweet : He accused Facebook of failing to enact any real reforms to combat disinformation on its platform, with his campaign releasing an open letter for people to sign emphasising the role that disinformation – spread on Facebook – could have on the coming 2020 presidential election …