June 9, 2021 - 8:30am to 9:30am PDT

Note: Registration for RightsCon 2021 is now closed. This community lab is limited to 60 participants.

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Panel Description:

While social media platforms have been applauded for being a place of self-expression, they are often inattentive to local contexts in many ethnically and linguistically diverse African countries. For example, in Ethiopia in the wake of the murder of famous singer and ethnic Oromo Hachalu Hundessa, viral hate speech circulated heavily on Facebook in the country. In some African states, content moderation has faced some challenges including platforms remiss of context, linguistic problems (example, Egypt, Rwanda, Tunisia), value of users, number of moderators, and flagging en mass. While digital threats are global, the evidence, resources and policies advanced to address these issues are unequally distributed, and rarely privilege non-Western perspectives. This panel brings together academics and civil society members to highlight and discuss the obstacles facing Africa when it comes to content moderation.

Now some involved in the debate in Africa regarding content regulation are embracing vertical regulation of platforms content through governmental laws (examples include the Tanzanian and Ethiopian Content moderation laws) while, on the other hand, some are supporting and self-regulation by platforms via community standards. Overall, whether platforms should incorporate international human rights law norms into their community standards that fully ensure their practices will be guided by principle of legality, legitimacy, necessity and proportionality remains an incessant puzzle. This why the session aims to contribute some thoughts emerging out in Africa to elucidate what may be the best path forward.

Drawing from research conducted in Ethiopia, Ghana, Libya, and Nigeria, we will share insights from our work and interactions with communities working against digital threats.

Throughout the session, we will foreground diverse geographical perspectives and engage in a broader conversation about the best way to move beyond Western-centric approaches to the causes, strategies and impact of platforms moderation systems.