At the beginning of the month, the UN Human Rights Council adopted resolution 76/227 on “Countering disinformation for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms”. This came at the request of UN member state Ukraine, who have been at the centre of a sharp increase in disinformation on social media platforms since they were invaded by Russia on 24 February 2022. Inputs on the resolution are welcomed until 30 April 2022.
The increase of disinformation on social media platforms is allegedly affecting the operation of organisations working in Ukraine to mitigate the consequences of the war by providing humanitarian aid. Member states including Poland, the UK and the US welcomed the resolution. However, some countries declined to approve the text, including China, France, and Venezuela. These nations cited varying degrees of concern surrounding the texts’ lack of detail and its failure to reference the role of social media companies in preventing disinformation on their platforms.
The narrative surrounding the responsibility of content moderation has resurfaced in the public debate since the initiation of the Russia-Ukraine war. For the most part, platforms are relying on self-regulation in order to filter out waves of harmful content due to the lack of public-private coordination on the matter. The resolution’s focus on the primary role of governments in regulating disinformation, therefore, fails to address the need for public-private initiatives aimed at tackling disinformation. This contradicts the proposed European framework for content moderation detailed in the Digital Services Act, which holds private companies responsible for regulating disinformation. To find out more about how the UN resolution on disinformation could affect governments and private companies across the globe, please contact Gordon Mackay at firstname.lastname@example.org or Bethany Marson at email@example.com.
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