Late January, the first meeting of European press-club this year took place in Berlina, patronized by the Prussian German Society.
I took part in it and was appointed as a co-moderator at “Free speech on social media” panel discussion.
Some of the participants were a German filmmaker Wilhelm Domke-Schulz, a journalist of African French-language division of Deutsche Welle Eric Topona, editor-in-chief of Latvian radio station PIK 100FM Yanis Kuzins, members of Bundestag, a renown African social activist Natali Yamb, the head of International Anticrisis Center project Yulia Afanasieva, the founder and chairman of the International SustainableEnergy Organization, coordinator of AFRIC association Clifford Ellis, journalists and bloggers from France, Germany, Switzerland, and Ukraine.
I presented a report titled “Freedom of speech on social media: myth or a new objective for civil society?” at the panel discussion. I gave a lot of attention to Twitter and Facebook, the leaders in a censorship department.
Why you may ask?
Because social media platforms have been a lot more than a place to share photos and videos for a long time now. We use them to express an opinion, engage in online debates, share important news with the rest of the world quickly. Of course, the matter of censorship becomes extremely important in such cases. I’d say, it even becomes vital. There are tons of violations from Twitter and Facebook, including but not limited to: spy software embedded in their apps, violations of user data security, banning users, groups and group chats (not even official state agencies are safe from that!). These measures aren’t targeting advocacy of extremism! Moderators themselves are extremists here!
In the meantime, social media networks ignore actual crimes. For example, Facebook doesn’t act on threats made against users whose moderators deem “dangerous individuals” or “individuals involved in violence.”
“All of us, gathered here, are united by a common rejection of censorship and arbitrariness that occurs in Western social media. And we must act as a whole. We should call the chiefs of major social media to publish accurate stop-lists so that we know all the words that we can be banned from using, and put an end to censorship altogether. We will seek transparent rules in social media!” – I said at the end of my speech.
As a result of the meeting, it was decided that every month in a year, social activists from all over the world will gather in different countries to force big Internet companies to obey the law and respect users.
In fact, we have an international platform where Russia has no differences with other countries. Neither do they!
Censorship of Western social media affects people all over the world – users suffer in America, Africa, the Baltic States, and Europe. The term “hate speech” is used freely. Optionally, the “hate speech” can be perceived even by statements such as”you are not beautiful”. You can even go so far as to consider it an insult to be addressed to you by someone of another nationality or country.
I sincerely believe that Russia can lead the fight for human rights around the world. Definitely, not alone, but with allies such as Turkey (in the Middle East). That means we need to meet, to talk and to fight for our rights.
And we are truly ready for this. We have carefully studied the experience of different countries and we have specific proposals to the chiefs of Western Internet platforms. We will discuss it and present them with our legal requirements. Because we want an equal (and respectful) partnership and to be treated with dignity.