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UN Agency Unveils Action Plan To Regulate Speech on Social Media Platforms

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Yet another United Nations agency – this time the Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – has joined the contentious efforts to use UN resources in the “war on misinformation.”

UNESCO is not lagging behind some of the veterans of this “war” regarding the kind of alarmist language its leadership is choosing to use to justify the policy.

Thus, Director-General Audrey Azoulay presented an action plan, saying that online disinformation is “a major threat to stability and social cohesion.”

A press release announcing the plan referred to the phenomenon of misinformation as “a scourge” and one that is intensifying. Those behind all this must hope that this is enough to explain what UNESCO – formerly known mostly for protection of world heritage sites and raising funds for underprivileged children – is even doing “fighting disinformation.”

But here’s the plan: to somehow not harm freedom of speech, and yet push for social media companies to hire more “moderators” that speak all the major languages and whose job would be “effective control of content.”

A lot of attention seems to be given to strengthening censorship capacities in languages other than English; that could explain why, according to UNESCO’s statement, the plan has received support particularly from some countries in Latin America and Africa.

Over the past number of years, the whole world could see how efficiently the notion of “misinformation” and the tools to counter it can be turned into proper weapons of censorship; there is likely no shortage of governments that would like to replicate what has been happening in English speaking countries.

“Electoral integrity” also crops up in the press release announcing the UNESCO initiative, and here the proposed solution is “risk assessment” as well as flagging content, more “transparency” around political ads – and who they are meant to target.

Finally, UNESCO somehow manages to work its core task and purpose into the whole thing – namely, culture. And that’s done by calling for “highlighting the risks faced by artists and the need for online access to ‘diverse cultural content’ (quotation marks here are UNESCO’s) as a fundamental human right.”

As for who needs any of this from UNESCO, and why – the agency justified its involvement by mentioning an opinion poll it commissioned, involving 8,000 respondents in 16 countries.

And because “85% of citizens are worried about the impact of online disinformation (on elections)” – we now have this “action plan.”

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, join Reclaim The Net.

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