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GIBS Media Leadership Think Tank

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​Social Media, Internet Shutdowns, Incitement & Democracy

GIBS is proud to announce the launch event of the GIBS Media Leadership Think Tank where a panel will explore the power of social media platforms, claims of censorship and incitement, and how this intersects with constitutional democracies, including South Africa and the US.

The launch event brings together experts who will discuss issues affecting the media industry today including; the de-platforming of former President Donald Trump by social media platforms and its implications for other countries; exploring whether content shared on these platforms was a factor in the recent unrest in South Africa; and freedom of expression - looking at the internet and social media shutdowns seen recently in Nigeria, Swaziland, Zambia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, particularly before or during election periods.

Starts: 16:00
Ends: 18:00
(SA TIME)

Some pressing questions to be raised:
  • What are the risks for citizens, business, and society if social media and Big Tech platforms do not enforce their own rules on hate speech and incitement?

  • Is de-platforming by social media constitutional in SA, the US and other settings?

  • How should social media, Big Tech platforms and telecommunications companies react when ordered to shut down the Internet and social media by governments, with a specific focus on recent incidents in Africa? 

  • Since the denial of internet access has long been recognised as a human rights issue, how should it be tackled globally, noting the various policy instruments and declarations at a UN and AU level?

  • How do we promote transparency in decision-making on these issues and ensure that ‘de-platforming’ is not abused, and freedom of expression harmed in the process?

About GIBS Media Leadership Think Tank:

The aim of the Media Leadership Think Tank is to create an independent research and advocacy platform for leaders and stakeholders in the media and audiovisual industries. Situated in South Africa’s top business school, the GIBS Media Leadership Think Tank will investigate the pressing societal and business challenges facing these sectors, including sustainability, digital disruption, and its impact on democracies. The Think Tank aims to generate research, debate, and innovative solutions for businesses, civil society, and government policy and will draw on experts from across Africa and globally.

Speakers confirmed to date:

  • Prof Tawana Kupe, Vice Chancellor of the University of Pretoria;
  • Dr Morris Mthombeni, Interim Dean of GIBS;
  • Michael Markovitz, Head: GIBS Media Leadership Think Tank;
  • Prof Dario Milo, leading South African and globally recognised media lawyer and expert on Columbia University's Global Freedom of Expression Initiative. Dario was appointed as an Expert on Columbia University's Global Freedom of Expression Initiative and also sits on the Global Media Freedom Initiative’s High Level Panel of Experts;
  • Dr Anya Schiffrin, director of the Technology, Media, and Communications (TMaC) specialisation at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), and a lecturer at the School of International and Public Affairs. Anya edited the recently published “Media Capture: How Money, Digital Platforms, and Governments Control the News” (June 2021); 
  • Fatou Jagne Senghore, Gambian-Senegalese human rights activist, women's rights activist and lawyer. In 2018 Fatou was awarded the prestigious honour of Chevalièr dans l'Ordre National du Mérite by the President of France. She is the outgoing Regional Director for Article 19 West Africa; and 
  • Juliet Nanfuka, digital rights researcher with the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), a leading centre for research and ICT policy advocacy in Africa. Juliet has a background in writing and new media where she uses this as a foundation for her work with the Kampala based research centre. 
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