Technology companies offer people around the world endless possibilities to share and impart information and express their opinions and beliefs quickly and without cost on social media platforms (SMPs). There are 4.62 billion users (58.4% of the global population) spending an average of 2h 27m per day on social media. This has revolutionized human communication and freedom of expression and has allowed people to bypass gatekeepers of information streams and overcome traditional censorship. However, this ‘platformization’ of communication is not without its issues as it has provided a vehicle for phenomena, such as extremism, terrorist content, disinformation, and hate speech, to gain wide and rapid dissemination. Our input to this consultation looks particularly at theme 4 – the State’s duty to protect regulatory and policy responses. In 2021, Justitia published a report which sets out International Human Rights Law (IHRL) as a ‘framework of first reference’ for moderating online hate speech and disinformation. It decodes relevant IHRL principles, applies them to hate speech and disinformation, and offers recommendations on their adoption by SMPs. As the consultation requests the sharing of views on the practical application of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to the activities of technology companies, we would be pleased if the OHCHR could refer to this report in addition to our consultation input.

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Executive Director at
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Jacob Mchangama is the Founder and Executive Director of The Future of Free Speech. He is also a research professor at Vanderbilt University and a Senior Fellow at The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE).