IGF 2023 WS #59 De-platforming as Censorship Means in the Digital Era

Organizer 1: Nikita Volkov, 🔒Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation
Organizer 2: Alexander Malkevich, 🔒
Organizer 3: Lydia Mikheeva, 🔒

Speaker 1: Charlemagne Tomavo, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: Dramane Traoré, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Aminé Mounir Alaoui, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 4: Nayla Abi Karam, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 5: Chahrazed Saadi, Private Sector, African Group


Alexander Malkevich, Civil Society, Eastern European Group

Online Moderator

Lydia Mikheeva, Civil Society, Eastern European Group


Nikita Volkov, Civil Society, Eastern European Group


Round Table - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. How does de-platforming help fight extremism and prevent verbal and physical violence, or does it instead feature exclusion and alienation?
2. What is being moderated on the Internet? Setting explicit and exhaustive definition and delimitation criteria of the harmful and malware content.
3. How to design mechanisms capable of mitigating the moderator’s bias and ensuring the moderator’s impartiality? Devising transparent and holistic guidelines for social media and digital services users: freedom of speech vis-à-vis hate speech.

What will participants gain from attending this session? The workshop attendees will familiarize themselves with the means of digital censorship provided by digital communication platforms, which are arbitrarily used by social media administrative staff, usually raising queries about their bias and whether they exceed their limits and abuse power. Furthermore, the workshop participants will discuss possible options for reshaping current abrupt content moderation policies, including imposing power limits on content moderators and increasing their accountability before Internet users.


The rampant evolution of new technologies, powered by 5G connectivity and artificial intelligence, has altered the significance of the Internet infrastructure in an unprecedented way and has made major social media platforms, primarily managed by private enterprises, irreplaceable and unique services.
As a result, а few private enterprises exert control over the most popular social media platforms, providing unique and non-elastic communication services (in the sense of content format, style, and means of its distribution) to the dozens of millions of users, also possess the unchecked powers to arbitrarily exclude anyone from the complex communicative networks, thus shunning those who have alternative opinions on various significant social, political, cultural, and economic topics by demoting them to the radicals and extremists, be it true or wrong.
Historically, the development and control over the communication infrastructure was a state prerogative, yet presently control over digital communication services, including content moderation policies and definition and devising multiple criteria of the so-called hate-speech and harmful content, is vested in IT moguls, allowing them to instrumentalize Internet infrastructure via exercising ambiguous practices of de-platforming – erasing users’ accounts in popular social media and other digital services for expressing opinions contradicting the dominating narratives.
Having the last word in de-facto censorship practices grants the IT moguls immense agenda-setting and agenda-framing powers, undermining strive for democracy, neglecting social inclusion, and marginalizing social groups.
The workshop is set to address the problem of arbitrary and unchecked de-platforming policy exercised by the private business in control of the junction points of the modern Internet communication infrastructure. At the session, the speakers are encouraged to discuss the issue and propose middle-ground solutions stipulating the mitigation of major stakeholders’ conflict of interest and adherence to the fundamental human rights and principles of freedom of speech and democracy.

Expected Outcomes

As a tangible outcome of the workshop, the organizers expect to tailor a set of policy recommendations on the phenomenon of de-platforming and content moderation policy on the major social media platforms while also raising the awareness of the society and expert community towards the issues discussed at the workshop.

Hybrid Format: The onsite moderator will steer the discussion by delegating the speaking slots of approximately 8-10 minutes to the onsite speakers and then turning to the online speakers overseen by the online moderator via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or other platforms.
During free discussion, the same rotation scheme will be implemented, yet time slots will be shorter.
To ensure the discussion flow and preserve the workshop’s internal logic and coherence, both onsite and online speaker reports and topics will be collected prior to the event, and the speakers’ sequence will be arranged according to the discussion plan.
The online moderator will rely on the IGF, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and VK online translation chats and WhatsApp and Telegram chats to collect the questions and relevant feedback to be covered by the speakers during free discussion.
The onsite moderator will ask for attendees’ questions and comments and then forward them to the speakers.