Kill the Messenger: Block, Erase, and Delete in the name of Freedom?

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Kill the Messenger: Block, Erase, and Delete in the name of Freedom?
Presenter(s) Julia Rone, Kasper Drazewski, Ula Furgal, Ruta Liepina, Kayahan Cantekin
Title(s) PhD researchers
Organization(s) European University Institute, Florence
Project(s)
Country(ies) Bulgaria, Poland, Latvia, Turkey
Social media
2017 theme Internet Freedom Present & Future

In this panel we discuss blocking and disrupting access to information online as a major threat to freedom of expression. First, we analyze cases in which governments have blocked online platforms (such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) or requested them to remove information. We explore when and why companies comply with government requests and what legal, technical and normative strategies of resistance are available to them. Second, we explore when online platforms self-censor themselves and remove information uploaded by their users. We pay particular attention to the algorithmic, automated types of censorship that have been on the rise recently. Finally, in the context of activism, we analyze cases in which activists hijacked the administrative rights of online profiles, blocked users and deleted information that goes against their views. To sum up, we want to unravel the tension between the rhetoric of online platforms as champions of freedom of expression and their commercial practices as companies pursuing profit in national markets following national laws. Ultimately, we ask: how free are the messengers we use and how can we trust them? Our discussion is based on the most recent research from the field of law, political science, and economics.


Format Panel Discussion
Target Groups Journalists, Advocacy and Policy Professionals, Front Line Activists, Academia,
Length 1 hour
Skill Level Novice
Language English


Session Outputs

video recording of the panel session, an online transcript of the discussion, a short documentary film on the topics discussed shot in Valencia during the festival

Next Steps

Additional Notes

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Contributors