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  • Writer's pictureManushya Foundation

#StopDigitalDictatorship Dive into the highlights of our session at APrIGF Brisbane!


🔊 Unveiling New Horizons: Key Takeaways from the Southeast Asia Collaborative Policy Network (SEA CPN) Session “Content Moderation Policy Advancing Technology for Democracy” at the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF) in Brisbane, Australia, and online on August 30, 2023 at 09.00-10.00 UTC.


We delved into vital topics:

  • Content moderation policy 📚

  • Advancing technology for democracy 🗳️

  • State-led disinformation 🚫

  • Hate speech and platform accountability 🤬

  • Advocating ardently for a safer, inclusive, and human rights-driven digital era. 🌐


Our SEA CPN session harnessed the collective wisdom of diverse voices from Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar. This dynamic discussion spotlighted crucial issues and potential solutions for a fortified and more responsible online realm.


In this transformative age, these insights aren't just ideas; they're the compass guiding us toward a harmonious coexistence of technology and humanity. Let's join hands in shaping a digital future that reflects our shared values. 💪


🔍 Exploring Alarming Online Repression Trends: What Can You Do to Protect #DigitalRights?


A riveting discourse unfolded, unveiling the disturbing rise of online censorship by authoritarian Southeast Asian governments.

Hearty commendations to Damar Juniarto (SAFEnet, Indonesia), whose skillful moderation ensured a seamless discussion on this critical topic on-site, steering us towards a Safer Digital Landscape. Gratitude extends to our remarkable speakers who shed light on digital repression trends in Southeast Asia:


🎙️ Emilie Pradhicit, Manushya Foundation: Navigating State-Led Disinformation and Content Moderation in Laos and Thailand.

🎙️ Oliver Spencer, Free Expression Myanmar: Confronting Content Moderation Challenges and Platform Accountability in Myanmar.

🎙️ Lisa Garcia, Foundation for Media Alternatives Philippines: Combating Hate Speech and Online Gender-Based Violence (OGBV) in the Philippines and broader ASEAN.

🎙️ Kyung Sin Park, Open Net/Korea University: Envisioning Collaborative Solutions for Trust and Accountability.


These voices collectively paint a picture of the digital landscape, prompting us to reflect and act.


🔥 While you’re here, dive into the Event's Highlights! The pulse of trust reverberated through the session, casting its influence over every discourse. From state-led disinformation to content moderation and the accountability of Big Tech, each speaker illuminated trust's multifaceted essence in our evolving digital realm. ⤵️

🎙️ Emilie Pradhicit (Manushya Foundation, Laos and Thailand) emphasized the significant challenges posed by state-led restrictive policies and the dissemination of disinformation, providing examples of state-led digital control in Laos and Thailand. Her presentation shed light on the lack of effective responses to these issues, which encompassed the failure to uphold online freedom and employ an intersectional perspective. Furthermore, she highlighted tech companies' inadequate adherence to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). Her comprehensive recommendations encompassed both state and tech company actions, including the imperative for states to uphold international human rights law (IHRL), amend existing laws, and promote intersectionality. Similarly, tech companies were urged to align with the UNGPs and embrace principles from the Global Network Initiative, among other measures.

🎙️ Oliver Spencer (Free Expression Myanmar) illuminated the distinct content moderation landscape in Myanmar, where online platforms prioritize profit-driven algorithms, often neglecting user rights and content quality. This dynamic manifests in two crucial aspects: under-moderation, exemplified by platforms like Telegram lacking effective national-level moderation, leading to a proliferation of harmful content; and over-moderation, as with Meta, removing content related to benign organizations to meet international standards. Spencer's core concern lies in the disproportionate focus on advertising and user retention, overshadowing fundamental content moderation issues. He passionately called upon tech companies to prioritize managing high-quality content, finding a balance between profit motives and safeguarding user rights, ultimately striving for a safer and more responsible digital environment in Myanmar.

🎙️ Lisa Garcia (Foundation for Media Alternatives Philippines), shared that in the Philippines, concerns have risen about Online Gender-Based Violence (OGBV), especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Victims often face unjust labels, and hate speech has surged, primarily targeting human rights defenders and journalists, particularly women. The absence of specific hate speech laws became evident during the 2020 election, with Meta pledging to tackle the issue temporarily. Additionally, some NGOs struggle to engage with social media platforms. However, the Southeast Asia Collaborative Peace Network (SEA CPN) has emerged as a beacon of hope, fostering collaboration between platforms and trusted flaggers to address OGBV and hate speech, offering a positive angle amid these challenges in the Philippines.

🎙️ Kyung Sin Park (Open Net/Korea University) In the face of rising censorship by authoritarian governments in Southeast Asia, the critical question emerges: should we maintain our passive role or become more actively engaged? Beyond pushing back against censorship, there's a call for greater responsibility from tech companies, advocating for them to take a lead role in content takedowns, rather than relying solely on government intervention. KS. Park introduced a collaborative roadmap grounded in international standards, like the Rabat Plan of Action, emphasizing the need for cooperation among stakeholders, especially tech companies, to combat harmful speech. A resounding call echoed for online platforms to champion human rights principles and reestablish the robust Trust and Safety Council of Twitter, now known as ‘X’. Importantly, it was stressed that platforms should not simply emulate government actions, given their electoral basis. Instead, platforms must pragmatically incorporate comprehensive content moderation as an integral part of their product to effectively serve democratic values in Southeast Asia.


Embark with us on this transformative journey! #StopDigitalDictatorship

📹A recording of the session is available here 🔗 APrIGF 2023 - Content moderation policy advancing technology for democracy




🔥 While you’re here, discover our pivotal work on democracy and digital rights, shaping our digital future. ⤵️

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