Bridging the Gap: Local voices in content moderation 

Group of journalists with cameras and smartphones in Berau, Indonesia

Social media platforms can be a space for free expression, democratic debate, and participation. But weak content moderation can transform them into hotbeds of ‘disinformation’, ‘hate speech’, and discrimination. This is especially concerning in post-conflict countries, where tensions between groups can erupt into violence. 

ARTICLE 19’s new research investigates how content is moderated on major social media platforms in three post-conflict countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Indonesia, and Kenya – with a particular focus on ‘harmful content’ (such as ‘hate speech’ and ‘disinformation’).

Our research has found that social media companies don’t listen to local communities. They also fail to consider context – cultural, social, historical, economic, political – when moderating users’ content. 

This can have a dramatic impact, online and offline. It can increase polarisation and the risk of violence – as when Facebook allowed incitement of genocide against Rohingya in Myanmar. 

Bridging this gap between global companies and local communities is therefore vital to ensuring sustainable peace and democracy in post-conflict countries.

Read our country reports

Global problem, local solution

ARTICLE 19, together with our research participants, has proposed a solution: local Coalitions on Freedom of Expression and Content Moderation.

These coalitions would allow consistent engagement between social media platforms and local civil society organisations, which would contribute to bridging the gap between global tech giants and local communities. 

Our research provides more information on these coalitions. For each country, we outline practical steps for creating them, detailed risk assessments and potential members.

“A local coalition on freedom of expression and content moderation would bring together social media platforms and local civil society organisations. This would represent a win–win. 

It would provide social media platforms with a one-stop shop where they could easily hear the concerns of local civil society. 

And it would give a voice to local civil society actors affected by ‘disinformation’, speech that incites discrimination, and content-moderation decisions that overlook the local context.”

Pierre François Docquir, Head of Media Freedom, ARTICLE 19

Edwin’s story

What are we asking social media companies to do?

Learn more about ARTICLE 19’s work on content moderation

International: Regulating content moderation. Who watches the watchmen?
08.12.2021 7 min read

International: Regulating content moderation. Who watches the watchmen?

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Social Media Councils: One piece in the puzzle of content moderation
12.10.2021 4 min read

Social Media Councils: One piece in the puzzle of content moderation

Click here to go to article
Side-stepping rights: Regulating speech by contract
19.06.2018 5 min read

Side-stepping rights: Regulating speech by contract

Click here to go to article
International: The Santa Clara Principles and the push for transparency
08.12.2021 3 min read

International: The Santa Clara Principles and the push for transparency

Click here to go to article
EU: Digital Services Act crisis response mechanism must honour human rights
13.04.2022 8 min read

EU: Digital Services Act crisis response mechanism must honour human rights

Click here to go to article

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“The launch on the first International Day to Counter Hate Speech of ARTICLE 19’s reports is a significant contribution of the UNESCO ‘Social Media 4 Peace’ project to curb hate speech on social media while protecting freedom of expression.” 

Mr Tawfik Jelassi, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information


“In conflict-affected and fragile contexts, there is often a lack of governance mechanisms to deal with the growing challenge of harmful content online. This is why we support efforts to address this growing challenge.”

Marc Fiedrich, Acting Director and Head of Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) – European Commission

Read our country reports

The Social Media 4 Peace project is run by UNESCO and funded by the EU

In partnership with UNESCO