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DISCUSSION - Unfriended? Social media companies and government censorship in times of violence




York, Jillian
Farrelly, Nicholas
Hamid Abdul, Usman
Sutton, Jacqueline
Logan, Sarah

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Do governments ever have the right to cut off or censor internet access? What about in times of civil unrest? Do companies have an obligation to work with governments in such situations, or an obligation to refuse? In a region regularly beset by communal violence and political unrest, but with some of the fastest growing populations of internet users in the world, the rights and responsibilities of companies such as twitter, facebook and youtube are not clear-cut. €‹ €‹Last month, for example, Thailand's newest government ordered facebook to be temporarily shut down amid a wave of protests, blunting the tools of pro-democracy campaigners. But in Iraq, the government recently shifted a 17-day social media ban imposed to disrupt brutal media offensives initiated by armed militants sweeping towards Baghdad. In Papua New Guinea, meanwhile, recent unrest has seen several government members argue that access to the internet should be cut off to avoid rumour, gossip and violence. Join us for a panel discussion on the complex rights and responsibilities of internet companies, featuring Jillian York, Director of International Freedom of Expression for the Electronic Freedom Foundation. Other panel participants include: Dr Nicholas Farrelly and Usman Hamid Abdul of the Department of Political and Social Change; Jacky Sutton, of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies; and Dr Sarah Logan, of the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program.







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