Tags: unesco | social media | internet | regulation | speech | disinformation | brazil

UN Agency Wants Global Guidelines to Improve Social Media Reliability

UNESCO sign
(Cebas1/Dreamstime)

By    |   Thursday, 23 February 2023 05:51 PM EST

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is calling for global guidelines on regulating speech with social media, as a means of silencing potential disinformation voices on the web.

During a recent UNESCO event in Paris bearing the title "Internet for Trust Conference," a litany of featured speakers reportedly demanded governance structure for eliminating "hate speech, misogyny, suppression of free speech, doxxing, and conspiracy theories."

UNESCO also voiced its opposition to sovereign countries taking individual actions to interpret speech on social media.

"If these regulatory initiatives are developed in isolation, with each country working in their own corner, they are doomed to fail. Information disruption is by definition a global problem, so our reflections must take place at the global scale," UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said this week, while adding that "at least 55 countries are working on" suppression of speech online.

For her Thursday address, which followed up a UNESCO promotional video referring to online users violating the boundaries of appropriate speech as "insects thriving in the dark," Azoulay touted the merits of regulating speech online.

"The blurring of boundaries between true and false, the highly organized denial of scientific facts, the amplification of disinformation and conspiracies — these did not originate on social networks," said Azoulay. "But in the absence of regulation, they flourish there much better than the truth."

Azoulay continued: "Only by taking the full measure of this technological revolution can we ensure it does not sacrifice human rights, freedom of expression and democracy. For information to remain a common good, we must reflect and act now, together."

Also on Thursday, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva — who reportedly referred to former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro as a "pedophile" in an online podcast during last year's presidential race — characterized the internet as a "risk to democracy."

"Risks to the civilized interaction between people. Risks to public health. The dissemination of disinformation during the [COVID-19] pandemic contributed to thousands of deaths. Hate speech makes victims every day," said Lula da Silva.

"Moreover, the victimized the most are the most vulnerable sectors of our societies. The world has witnessed the attack by extremists to the seats of the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of power in Brazil on Jan. 8. Brazilian democracy won that battle, and it is now stronger," continued Lula da Silva.

"However," he said, "we will always be indignant with the barbaric scenes of that Sunday. On the one hand, it is necessary to guarantee the exercise of individual freedom of expression, a fundamental human right.

"On the other hand, we need to ensure a collective right: the right of society to have access to trustworthy information, and not lies and disinformation," he added.

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is calling for global guidelines on regulating speech with social media, as a means of silencing potential disinformation voices on the web.
unesco, social media, internet, regulation, speech, disinformation, brazil
452
2023-51-23
Thursday, 23 February 2023 05:51 PM
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