Towards building a hate-free internet

Part 1 - Lead Organizer


Contact Person

Pavitra Ramanujam

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

Association for Progressive Communications (APC)


Project Coordinator



Economy of Residence


Primary Stakeholder Group

Civil Society


Part 2 - Session Proposal

Your proposal is for

Main Conference (Day 1-3)

Session Title

Towards building a hate-free internet


Inclusion Trust

Session Format

Panel Discussion

Where do you plan to organize your session?

Virtual / online

Specific Issues for Discussion

Hate speech, especially against marginalised communities, is not a new phenomenon; however, social media has given such speech the perfect platform for rapid proliferation. In recent years, the impact of online hate speech has been clear, be it violence against Rohingyas in Myanmar or burning of Buddhist temples in Indonesia. Big social media companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have developed policies to tackle hate on their platforms; however, opaqueness of their policies, inconsistent application, and reluctance to prioritise harm reduction over profit has meant that they have fallen short. Others like TikTok, and newer platforms like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces, whose model of live conversations makes moderation doubly difficult, have no real policy to stop hate speech. States have responded to this situation by developing various laws and policies in the past few years, but these laws have often been used as political tools, to restrict expression and curb dissent. This session will discuss the realities of online hate speech in Asia, steps taken by the private sector to curb hate and their effectiveness, states’ response and what can be done better to reduce hate online, especially in light of constant changes in technology and newer forms of communication.

Describe the Relevance of Your Session to APrIGF

Hate speech has become a critical threat to a free internet and freedom of expression online. It results in self-censorship, psychological harm and otherisation, especially of already discriminated communities, such as religious, sexual and gender minorities. It has also resulted in dangerous consequences offline in the form of violence and further marginalisation of these groups. Left unchecked, hate speech could result in the fragmentation of online communities and a blow to efforts to make the internet more inclusive to all people. For trust to be maintained across networks and the people who use them, it is important that we foster an environment that is accepting of diverse opinions and expression and where users feel safe in sharing their thoughts without fear of backlash, both from other users and states. While countering online hate speech requires a multi-stakeholder approach, states and especially the private sector have a huge role to play, as they control the online spaces where hate speech is proliferated and have the most resources to address the problem on a large scale. Therefore, it is important to examine their approach which this session seeks to do.

Methodology / Agenda

5 Minutes: The session will commence with a brief introduction to the discussions likely to be had and introduction of speakers. 35 minutes: There will be a conversation with the panelists on the following: Brief reflection of growing problem of hate speech and its impact in Asia What kind of hate speech moderation policies have been implemented by the private sector? What has worked and what hasn’t? States’ response - effectiveness and impact of hate speech laws and big tech regulation Challenges in reducing online hate speech in light of changing technology like TikTok, Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces. What can the private sector and states do better to address the problem of online hate? 15 minutes: Interaction with the participants 5 minutes: Closing with with final remarks from all speakers

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

#hatespeech #contentmoderation #freedomofexpression


Moderators & Speakers Info (Please complete where possible)

Name Designation Organization Economy of Residence Stakeholder Group Gender Status of Confirmation
Moderator (Primary) Pavitra Ramanujam Project Coordinator Association for Progressive Communications India Civil Society female Confirmed
Moderator (Back-up)
Speaker 1 Sadaf Khan Founder and Director Media Matters for Democracy, Pakistan Pakistan Civil Society female Confirmed
Speaker 2 Susan Benesch Founder\/Faculty Associate Dangerous Speech Project\/Harvard Berkman Klein Centre USA Academia female Confirmed
Speaker 3 TBC TBC TBC TBC Private Sector TBC Proposed
Speaker 4 Thenmozhi Soundararajan Executive Director Equality Labs India\/USA Civil Society female Confirmed


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

Sadaf Khan is the co-founder and Director at Media Matters for Democracy, Pakistan. She is a journalist working on digital rights, with a focus on freedom of expression and media freedoms. Sadaf has engaged extensively with the private sector on their content moderation policies and with the government on the Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight, and Safeguard) Rules 2020 in Pakistan. Thenmozhi Soundararajan is a Dalits-rights activist and the Executive Director of Equality Labs, a south-asia organisation that is focused on pushing back against discrimination, especially on caste apartheid, racism, and religious intolerance in digital spaces. Thenmozhi and Equality Labs have worked specifically on the issue of hate speech and content moderation through their report, Facebook India: Towards a tipping point of violence caste and religious hate speech. Susan Benesch is a faculty associate at the Harvard Berkman Klein Centre and founder of the Dangerous Speech Project, which studies speech that can inspire violence and to find ways to prevent this, without infringing on freedom of expression. To that end, she conducts research on methods to diminish harmful speech online, or the harm itself. She also works with tech companies to provide ideas and guidance on governance of online content, hate speech, and disinformation. We will also have someone from the private sector, in particular, from Facebook or Twitter join us on the panel to share with us the steps they have taken to curb hate speech on their platforms, some of the challenges in moderating hate speech online and their plans for the future to reduce hate online.