IGF 2017 WS #301 Fake news, Content Regulation and Platformization of the Web: A Global South Perspective

Proposer's Name: Ms. Vidushi Marda
Proposer's Organization: The Centre for Internet and Society
Co-Proposer's Name: Ms. Stefania Milan
Co-Proposer's Organization: DATACTIVE, University of Amsterdam
Co-Organizers:
Ms. Vidushi Marda, Civil Society, The Centre for Internet and Society
Ms. Stefania Milan, Civil Society, DATACTIVE


Session Format: Panel - 90 Min

Proposer:
Country: India
Stakeholder Group: Civil Society

Co-Proposer:
Country: India
Stakeholder Group: Civil Society

Speaker: Malavika Jayaram
Speaker: Niels ten Oever
Speaker: James Losey
Speaker: Zeenab Aneez

Content of the Session:
This session will take the perspective of the Global South to discuss the content regulation increasingly carried out on and by platforms such as Facebook in response to “fake news”. It will discuss what the “platformization” of the internet, or the increasingly predominant role of social media platforms, means for internet governance frameworks and processes. As much of the internet governance narrative is focussed around Western considerations, the multistakeholder IG community needs urgently to pay attention to the consequences of these moves for the Global South, where often freedom of expression is not adequately protected and supported.

This panel will thus address two key questions: first, whether this platformization of the web is accompanied by adequate safeguards in context of online content regulation in the Global South. Second, how current internet governance frameworks and processes find relevance in the age of platformization of the internet. The panel builds on well-attended session by the same organizers at RightsCon (Brussels, 2017), entitled ‘Resisting Content Regulation in the Post-
Truth World: How to Fix Fake News and the Algorithmic Curation of Social Media”--where the debate on these isues started.

Goals:
Explore key trends and developments in the area of content regulation on and by platforms with a specific forum on the Global South
analyze the shift in regulation from governments and governance processes to social media platforms, and understand whether these developments are accompanied by adequate safeguards
Identify, through a multistakeholder dialogue, the implications for the internet governance agenda in relation to similar trends towards content regulation within ICANN, and formulate recommendations on the role of the IGF in this debate

Outcomes:
Understanding of trends in content regulation on and by internet platforms with a focus on the Global South
A transnational, multistakeholder dialogue on the relevance of traditional internet governance processes amidst the shift towards the platformization of the internet
Recommendations on possible ways to approach content regulation and platformization of the internet in the Global South, with a focus on advocacy, awareness raising and capacity building



Relevance of the Session:
The Economist (2016) has recently argued that we now live in a “post-truth” world, where public opinion is shaped not by objective facts, but rather by appeals to emotion or personal beliefs. Corporate social media are believed to play a key role in this process, which, it is argued, is detrimental to democracy. Platforms like Facebook have faced extensive criticism for the circulation of “fake news” on its wires, and proposed solutions to this problem include drastic measures like curation and fact checking, which arguably go in the direction of content policing.
These solutions are all, unfortunately, inherently problematic: they advocate for broad and overarching restrictions to the freedom of speech and expression, sometimes in the absence of clear evidence. Yet we know from the history of the internet that touching the plumbing of the internet is hardly a good idea. But are Facebook and its likes merely neutral “pipes” or are they media companies subjected to the existing regulation of the press?

This panel speaks directly to this year’s theme, “Shape your Digital Future” as it aims at facilitating a forward looking, engaging discussion on what the future of freedom of expression and content regulation on the internet should look like from a global south perspective. It will also ask: what does this current fascination for automatized or algorithmic content regulation means for human rights and freedom of expression? What implications does it have for internet governance (IG), where the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has recently been also accused of an “ambivalent drift into online content regulation” through voluntary agreements and private contracting.


Tag 1: Fakenews
Tag 2: Content
Tag 3: Internet Governance

Interventions:
Outline:
Introduction by proposers/organisers, brief background to content regulation, platformization, fake news
Zeenab Aneez (Independent Researcher) - platformisation of digital news,
algorithm as editor, and media diversity
Niels ten Oever (Article19) - Freedom of expression considerations in regulation of content and human rights implications more widely
Malavika Jayaram (Digital Asia Hub) - Conceptions of fake news and unique considerations from the Global South
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (TBC) - The consequences of excessive state regulation
James Losey (Stockholm University) - The political economy of fake news, between the North and the South
Facebook or other industry representative (TBC) - Challenges faced by platforms, approaches taken and ongoing concerns

Each speaker will give a brief (5-minute) presentation, followed by a discussion of all participants in the room, with the goal of identifying common agendas. The speakers will be called on regularly to give further interventions.


Diversity:
The group of presenters will be
Multi-stakeholder, bringing together members of civil society, business and government
Focussed on perspectives from the Global South
Balanced in its gender and geographical distribution


Onsite Moderator: Vidushi Marda
Online Moderator: Stefania Milan
Rapporteur: Amber Sinha

Online Participation:
We will ensure online participation, both in concept, and in practice. For example: online attendees will have a separate queue and microphone, which will rotate equally with the mics in the room; the workshop moderator will have the online participation session open, and will be in close communication with the workshop’s trained online moderator, to make any adaptations necessary as they arise, etc

Discussion facilitation:
Each speaker will be given 5 minutes to make opening remarks, after which the floor will be opened to the audience (both insitu and online) so as to facilitate a lively, engaging conversation. The Panel format will facilitate this well as it will represent diverse views from various stakeholders in an orderly fashion, paving the way for a meaningful debate at the time of participation from the audience and online participants.

Conducted a Workshop in IGF before?: No
Link to Report:

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678