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 Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, 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 …

Digital democratic cities and the future of human rights online

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, In focus: democracy

The title of the seventh edition of the Glion Human Rights Dialogue in late 2020, ‘ Making digital technology work for human rights ,’ was chosen deliberately. The organisers hoped that at the same time as considering the important threats to human rights posed by such technology, such as the emergence of ‘surveillance States’ and internet shutdowns, Glion VII would also – in a more positive sense …

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 Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

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 …

Garbage in, garbage out: is AI discriminatory or simply a mirror of IRL inequalities?

by Aurore Lentz, Universal Rights Group Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

When considering the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), it is useful to remember Tay, an infamous Twitter chatbot launched by Microsoft in March 2016. Tay was an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot intended to ‘learn’ by reading tweets and interacting with other Twitter users. ‘The more you talk, the smarter Tay gets!,’ its description read. It only took a few hours …

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

by Aurore Lentz, Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

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 …

Human Rights: New challenges – firm commitments and beliefs

by Ambassador Walter STEVENS, Permanent Observer, EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva Uncategorized @nyc

A year ago, at a Human Rights Day event in Geneva, I met two very impressive sisters, Amy and Ella Meek, 14 and 16 years old respectively. These two young climate activists go to the barricades against plastic pollution. I also met Memory Banda, a young campaigner against child marriage from Malawi and Hamangai Pataxo, an indigenous rights defender from …

The COVID-19 pandemic: Five urgent principles for leaving no one behind through technology

by Lorna McGregor and Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

The UN Secretary General has characterised the pandemic as a ‘public health emergency … an economic crisis. A social crisis. And a human crisis that is fast becoming a human rights crisis’. Other UN agencies predict global mass unemployment and severe food insecurity . If urgent action is not taken, existing structural inequalities will expand and entrench and threaten the protection of human rights and the …

Contact Tracing and challenges to privacy

by Dr. Jonathan Andrew, Research Fellow, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

The RightOn webinar earlier this week brought together experts to discuss the use of technologies to facilitate contact tracing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and asked whether such approaches represented a risk to the right to privacy. A diverse range of perspectives on human rights law – including those of civil society, computer science, academia and the telecommunications industry – informed …

First private sector ‘Treaty Body’ launched by Facebook

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

Yesterday, beneath the radar of most diplomats at the UN, Facebook launched what is, in effect, a global first: a private sector-led human rights ‘Treaty Body’ designed to monitor its own compliance with international human rights standards. Specifically, the tech giant’s new ‘Oversight Board’ will review Facebook’s decisions about what content to ‘take down’ (because, for example, it constitutes ‘hate …

What are the human rights priorities of world governments in 2020?

by the URG team Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

An independent analysis of the High-Level Segment of the Human Rights Council The High-Level Segment of the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council , held from 24 to 26 February 2020, saw the active participation of more than a 100 world leaders, including, four heads of States, around 90 ministers or vice-ministers, and a number of principals of international organisations. In the statements they delivered to …