Over 3000 representatives of governments, regulatory bodies, digital companies, academia and civil society will gather at UNESCO on 22-23 February for the first global conference to address the threats to information integrity and freedom of expression posed by social media platforms.
15 February 2023
"We face one of the most complex and decisive challenges of our time. We will meet it together, by establishing common principles based on human rights, in particular freedom of expression".
- Audrey AzoulayUNESCO's Director-General
The Internet for Trust Global Conference will take place from 22-23 February 2023 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, along with a day of side events organized by UNESCO partners on 21 February.
Although they have revolutionized communications and the dissemination of knowledge, today, social media platforms are also sometimes responsible for the dissemination of disinformation, hate speech, and conspiracy theories. The algorithms integral to most social media platforms’ business models often prioritize engagement over safety and human rights.
Many countries around the world have issued or are currently considering national legislation to address the spread of harmful content. Some of this legislation risks infringing the human rights of their populations, particularly the right to freedom of expression and opinion. There are also wide disparities in the distribution of moderation resources between regions and languages. A consistent approach worldwide is urgently needed, founded upon international human rights standards.
UNESCO’s Conference responds to a global call for action from the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Gutérres, to address the spread of disinformation and the denial of scientifically-established facts, which pose “an existential risk to humanity.”
As the UN agency for communication and information, UNESCO has been leading a series of global consultations to define common guidelines to address this issue since September. The conference will be a key opportunity for exchange between the different actors during the consultative process. UNESCO will finalize and publish the guidelines in mid-2023. They will then be used by governments, regulatory and judicial bodies, civil society, the media and the digital companies themselves to help improve the reliability of information online while promoting freedom of expression and human rights.
Participants in the conference will travel from all regions of the world to participate in this important dialogue. Among the notable contributors will be the Nobel Peace Prize-winning journalist Maria Ressa, the Pulitzer prize-winning investigative journalist Julia Angwin, Irene Khan the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Expression, Daniel Motaung and Christopher Wylie, both Facebook Whistleblowers, and Roberto Barroso, the Brazilian Supreme Court Justice.