By Dominic Hlordzi in Paris, France.
The Global Conference on Regulating Digital Platforms for Information as a Public Good also referred to as the Internet For Trust opened in Paris, France, with calls on digital companies to step up efforts against all forms of online attacks and negativity.
The Conference is being organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, (UNESCO)
There were welcoming remarks by Director-General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay, and captivating speech by Maria Ressa, Nobel Peace Prize and 2021 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize, calling on digital companies to be part of the solution against content that is potentially damaging to human rights and democracy. The much-talked-about conference opened on February 22, 2023, at UNESCO Headquarters.
The opening was also marked by messages from the Prime Minister of Iceland, H.E. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, and the President of Brazil, H.E. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
A lively discussion session moderated by Carole Cadwlladr of the the Guardian, (The Observer), Felipe Neto, Maria Ressa and Melissa Fleming highlighted the need for digital platforms to protect the public sphere and the information ecosystem from manipulation, hate speech, violence and other content that is damaging democracies and societies in unprecedented dimensions and speed.
The debate also drew attention to the role of influencers, calling on them to come on board and use their power to improve the quality of online information.
The opening was followed by a series of panel discussions with several participants highlighting the importance to hold governments and regulators accountable following human rights standards.
Online participants connected from different parts of the world, and there were comments from members of each multistakeholder group.
Series of events
Aside from the main Confernce, there are about 20 in-person and virtual sessions that are deliberating on digital platforms, journalism and education.
Over four thousand participants comprising representatives of Governments, regulatory bodies, digital companies, academia, journalists and civil society organisations are attending.