Moderating Dear Leaders: Public Figure Moderation Policies, a Regional Perspective

Part 1 - Lead Organizer


Contact Person


Organization / Affiliation (Please state "Individual" if appropriate)



Asia Digital Program Manager



Economy of Residence


Primary Stakeholder Group

Civil Society


Part 2 - Session Proposal

Your proposal is for

Main Conference (Day 1-3)

Session Title

Moderating Dear Leaders: Public Figure Moderation Policies, a Regional Perspective



Session Format

Panel Discussion

Where do you plan to organize your session?

Virtual / online

Specific Issues for Discussion

Following the 6 January US Capitol riots, Facebook indefinitely suspended the Facebook account of US President Donald Trump. The decision was referred soon after to the Facebook Oversight Board, the global institution established by the company to decide the “most difficult and significant” content questions. Moderating state actors’ speech is certainly among the “most difficult” content decisions a social media platform can make. Outside of US-focused narratives, however, this was not the first high-profile public figure to face de-platforming. Facebook’s 2018 permanent account suspension of the Myanmar military’s Commander-in-Chief, Min Aung Hlaing (now the head of Myanmar’s State Administration Council following the February 2021 military coup), was described as unprecedented then, but generated little policy debate. Questions over moderating state actors’ speech raise complex questions but remain relevant in a region comprising most of the world’s social media users. As much as social media companies need transparent, consistent, and global policies, specific regional challenges must inform this discussion. The workshop will explore the challenges of moderating public figure online behavior in Asia Pacific; who counts as a public figure, especially in an age of disinformation at scale; the parameters of moderation; and other human rights policy considerations.

Describe the Relevance of Your Session to APrIGF

Asia-Pacific is home to more than half of the world’s social media users. Governments and officials use social media themselves. However, many countries in the region are often ranked as not-free or partly-free and receive some of the lowest scoring on internet freedom indices. Content moderation in Asia-Pacific, in line with one of this year’s APrIGF thematic tracks, is of vital importance in nurturing the development of internet freedom in an incredibly connected and vibrant region., The panel will directly address conference priorities on the roles and responsibilities of government and industry in developing rights-compatible internet governance and stopping the spread of misinformation and incitement to discrimination and violence. The session seeks to highlight the various ways technology is used and exploited in Asia-Pacific with the aim of informing global policy and practices concerning online speech. As such, expected workshop outcomes include greater awareness of the challenges and opportunities for moderating public figure online content, and needed input to inform relevant global de-platforming policies. By engaging in this conversation at the regional level, the workshop seeks to identify regionally responsive challenges and recommendations that might otherwise be neglected in a narrative that is often largely US-centered, despite its global ramifications.

Methodology / Agenda

The moderator will outline the key issues and introduce the panelists. The panel will begin with a moderator guided conversation among the panelists regarding the challenges of moderating public figure speech online from a variety of sector and geographic perspectives. There will be a space for interactive questions and comments from the participants, including invitation for them to propose their own recommendations. The panel will conclude with each panelist making brief closing remarks. The panel will solicit participant contributions on alternative models for moderating world leaders and public figures, which will be compiled by the moderator and made available as an end of session briefing to interested participants, who are also invited to join a regional network and stay in touch on related internet freedom issues.

Please provide 3 subject matter tags that best describe your session.

#SocialMedia #ContentModeration #Deplatforming


Moderators & Speakers Info (Please complete where possible)

Name Designation Organization Economy of Residence Stakeholder Group Gender Status of Confirmation
Moderator (Primary) Michael Caster Asia Digital Program Manager ARTICLE 19 Thailand Civil Society Male Confirmed
Moderator (Back-up)
Speaker 1 Jenny Domino Associate Legal Advisor International Commission of Jurists Philippines Civil Society Female Confirmed
Speaker 2 Nighat Dad Executive Director Digital Rights Foundation Pakistan Civil Society Female Confirmed
Speaker 3 Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit Leader of Party, former Member of Parliament Future Forward Party Thailand Government Male Invited
Speaker 4 Jonathan Corpus Ong Associate Professor of Global Digital Media University of Massachusetts Amherst Philippines, US Academia Male Confirmed


Please explain the rationale for choosing each of the above contributors to the session.

Each member of the panel has been selected for their expertise and experience relating to world leader/public figure policies on social media, and chosen from a diversity of sectors and regions to ensure a rounded and nuanced discussion. Jenny Domino, as a member of the International Commission of Jurists with extensive experience working in Myanmar brings legal expertise and record of publications as a thought leader on the challenges of regulating the harmful speech of public figures in the region, in particular in Myanmar and the Philippines. Jonathon Ong, originally from the Philippines, is a academic expert, professor of global media at the University of Massachusetts and a fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. He has studies state-driven disinformation campaigns in Southeast Asia and published extensively on these issues, and in particular as relates to the Philippines. He will bring a strong academic and theoretical foundation to the legal and practitioners perspective offered by other panelists. Nighat Dad, as the executive director of Pakistan’s Digital Rights Foundation has worked closely on these issues in her work in Pakistan but also in her others roles, among them as a member of the Facebook Oversight Board, which recently ruled on the Facebook deplatforming of former President Donald Trump. Nighat will bring a range of expertise and perspective to the discussion. Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, a former member of Parliament for the now-defunct Future Forward Party is selected to provide a valuable perspective of a public figure whose advocacy online has been used to target him and discredit his party, ultimately being charged under Thailand’s repressive lese majeste laws for comments he made on social media. Comparing the challenges of regulating harmful speech by public figures who incite or glorify violence online to the targeting and silencing of human rights minded public figures, from a range of civil society, academic, and government perspectives, the panelists have been selected to ensure a thoughtful and regional conversation.