IGF 2023 WS #132 One-size-fits-all content moderation: failing global south?


Human Rights & Freedoms
Rights to Access and Information

Organizer 1: Adeline Hulin, UNESCO
Organizer 2: Monika Martinovic, 🔒

Speaker 1: Alissa Wahid, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Victor Omondi Kapiyo , Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Pedro Vaca Villarreal, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization


Adeline Hulin, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization

Online Moderator

Monika Martinovic, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization


Monika Martinovic, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization


Round Table - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. How to make content moderation in the global south more efficient in countering harmful content while promoting and safeguarding freedom of expression and access to information?
2. How to improve cooperation among stakeholders at global, regional, and local levels towards human rights-based content governance?
3. How to ensure adequate protection of the human rights of vulnerable groups subjected to harassment and threats online?

What will participants gain from attending this session? The participants will get informed about how content moderation policies of platforms impact local communities and vulnerable groups based on the hands-on experience of the local partners involved in the implementation of the UNESCO project ‘Social Media for Peace’ and the research findings. At the same time, participants will be able to engage and discuss a concrete pilot initiative of this project to bridge the gap between local stakeholders and digital platforms through the creation of national multistakeholder coalitions on content moderation and freedom of expression.


This session will discuss how the current one-size-fits-all content moderation systems of digital platforms fail the global south. The discussions will be anchored on the learnings of the UNESCO project ‘Social Media 4 Peace’, which has shown, among others, how the geographical disparities in the distribution of resources for content moderation are leaving the content in many local languages unchecked or poorly moderated, impacting the freedom of expression, as well as peace and stability. The project also attests to the lack of capacities and access to data of various local communities to understand digital platforms' practices and their difficulty in engaging in a dialogue with their representatives to resolve content moderation issues which further reinforces the problems.
The session will unpack ways to solve the challenges of the global disconnect between social media platforms and local communities in the global south by enabling local partners of the project "Social Media 4 Peace" implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Indonesia, and Kenya, to share their experiences and lessons learned.
To address this disconnect and also ensure that vulnerable groups, who are already most exposed to hate speech and disinformation, are better protected on social media platforms, UNESCO and its project partner Article 19 are supporting the establishment of national coalitions on content moderation and freedom of expression. By empowering local stakeholders to bridge the gap between the local level and the digital platforms, UNESCO believes that such a collaborative approach could contribute to making content moderation more culturally sensitive, responsive to local needs and values, and inclusive of diverse perspectives. Moreover, the experience of the coalitions could serve as a solution to replicate in other countries with similar challenges. The session will also highlight the importance of interacting with regional human rights systems, such as the Inter-American and the African one.

Expected Outcomes

- Increased awareness about the impact of the project “Social Media 4 Peace”. In particular, increased knowledge about how national multistakeholder coalitions on content moderation and freedom of expression can contribute to addressing global inequalities in content moderation effectively.
- Dissemination of the national research reports of the project (on the legal framework and self-regulatory framework to address online harmful content) shared and promoted within the IGF community.
- New opportunities for replication of the project in other countries of the global south.

Hybrid Format: The interaction of the session will rely on fluent communication between our onsite and online moderators to keep track of the questions and comments from both groups and ensure that everyone has a chance to voice their thoughts. Chat function will be accessible to enable attendees to post their questions, thoughts, and comments online and have a back-and-forth conversation. The attendees will be given all the relevant details and materials driving the discussion, including links from various research reports and other outputs of the project "Social Media 4 Peace."
The conversation will be advanced between online and onsite participants. We will provide clear instructions to onsite and online participants before the session. To ensure dynamic and fluent communication between onsite and online participants, we will make sure to have the appropriate audio/visual equipment on-site to support interactive discussion on both sides.