IGF 2023 WS #359 Inclusion Illusion: Minority Voices on Digital Platforms


Human Rights & Freedoms
Non-discrimination in the Digital Space

Organizer 1: Spector Jesse, Oversight Board
Organizer 2: Meri Baghdasaryan, 🔒Internet Rights and Principles Coalition
Organizer 3: Marwa Azelmat, RNW Media

Speaker 1: Nighat Dad, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Brittan Heller, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Jason Pielemeier, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Marwa Azelmat, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 5: Jan Gerlach Jan Gerlach, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Marwa Azelmat, Civil Society, African Group

Online Moderator

Meri Baghdasaryan, Civil Society, Eastern European Group


Spector Jesse, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Panel - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

1.) What methods have been used to regulate digital platforms and what are the risks and opportunities posed by each?
2.) How can government regulations and independent oversight mechanisms work together to safeguard digital platforms for all users?
3.) What can we learn from regional practices on inclusion of marginalized groups to ensure inclusion of minority voices on a global scale?

What will participants gain from attending this session? 1.) Participants will gain an understanding of how social media platforms have attempted to promote the inclusion of traditionally marginalised communities - looking critically at what methods have proven promising and which have had less impact to ensure lessons learnt are clearly conveyed.
2.) How government regulation alone is insufficient to safeguard social media and that a truly consultative multi-stakeholder approach is the only viable route to meaningful impact.
3.) An understanding of challenges faced by marginalized communities in online spaces, the impact this has on and offline, and the bottom up approaches that could herald real change.


Digital technologies have the capacity to bridge social divides and minimize barriers to inclusion; but their existence alone isn’t enough to make that happen. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter create the illusion of a modern global public square open for discussion and debate. But the reality of these virtual spaces and current approaches to governing them have severe repercussions on minority voices and the amplification of hate speech and other forms of discrimination. It takes a village to raise a voice – unless public and private sector stakeholders can work together to recognize and protect human rights online, those groups and voices most marginalized in the physical world will often be overlooked virtually as well.

This session will examine the ramifications of different forms of online discrimination, along with the measures, methods, and models that have been used to combat it. The conversation will explore the role of a range of actors - including platforms, users, policymakers, civil society, and media - both as sources of exclusion and as part of the solution. Examples will be drawn from the treatment of age, gender, religious denomination, and political affiliation around the world. Particular attention will be paid to the nuances of cultural and social context, such as the manifestation of hate speech in post-colonial circumstances. Speakers will explain the strengths and limitations of traditional regulatory instruments to moderate these spaces, as well as the merits of independent and multistakeholder mechanisms to enforce accountability.

Expected Outcomes

1.) Series of stakeholder roundtables convened in different locations hosted by the Oversight Board focused on continuing the conversation about identifying obstacles and finding better inclusive mechanisms.
2.) Engage with the Oversight Board regarding the strategic priority on Hate speech and marginalized groups and inform the Board’s understanding of regional realities around inclusion of minority voices.
3.) Publish a blog post summarizing workshop discussion and recommendations.

Hybrid Format: 1.) To facilitate interaction between onsite and online speakers and attendees, we will conduct live-polling of audience, and have a dedicated online moderator whose job it is to monitor the chat to stop unrelated conversations and to take questions from the virtual audience, we will also include online chat in session summary notes
2.) To ensure the best possible experience for both online and onsite participants, we will utilize visual slides optimized for both online and in-room viewing, we will also conduct live audience polls to set the stage (i.e. word cloud on impression of social platforms, choose one top regulatory challenge facing platforms).
3.) We will use Mentimeter (polling) to increase participation and interaction during the session.