Social media and religious freedom raised at global summit as ‘double-edged sword’

of International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit They met last week in Washington, D.C., with the aim of finding ways to promote religious freedom on social media platforms while also stopping the spread of hate and misinformation.

Paolo Carrozza, a member of the Meta Oversight Committee and a speaker at the conference, told Fox News Digital that he was pleased to see Meta’s partnership and presence at the IRF Summit.

“Elevating forgotten voices in the media” panel session at the International Religious Freedom Summit. Paolo Carozza, a member of the Meta Monitoring Committee, took the stage. (Matt Lib)

“What the Oversight Commission is essentially trying to do is hold itself accountable for how it operates with content while upholding appropriate standards of freedom of expression… I believe that the Oversight Commission I think it was really important for that to be there…because…religious freedom is a very deep thing.” How social media is managed and…what’s on the platform and what’s not. It depends on whether you don’t do it or not,” he said.

Lou Ann Sabatier, principal at Sabatier Consulting and co-founder of the ForRB Women’s Alliance, says this is a double-edged sword when it comes to international religious freedom.

“There are so many great things happening…connections between closed communities that are trying to practice their faith in some way. Secondly, raising awareness,” he said, pointing to the Rohingya in Burma. “When the genocide started happening in Burma, when the coup happened, [Burma]…People think this was not just political, but also had religious implications for Muslims. [population]. And what they were doing was using social media to publicize that this was happening, to warn each other, to protect each other,” Sabatier said.

At the same time, she said, “It’s mainly harmful behavior on social media, the use of social media for hate speech, or some sort of discord or disinformation campaign, all sorts of things that lead to offline actions.” Often… whether it’s gang violence or someone’s arrest, someone… [surveilled]…Human rights online are just as important as offline. ”

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refugees gather together

Rohingya refugees protest outside the United Nations Refugee Agency office in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on January 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Gaza Now, which is affiliated with the Hamas terrorist organization, had more than 4.9 million followers on Facebook before it was banned in October 2023. Gaza Now also had a total of more than 800,000 followers on other social media sites before many of those accounts were deleted, the newspaper said. new york times.

Carrozza said Mehta crossed a crossroads with his post about the Oct. 7, 2023 Hamas attack, related to the spread of terrorism and the visibility of the incident.

A man typing on a computer.

Several hackers took advantage of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. (

“Meta-concerns about things like graphic violence and the glorification of terrorism led to algorithms being changed to be more restrictive, and what we discovered was that… So, you know, in a lawsuit like this, you have to allow a lot of content back on the platform. “The verdict was given,” he said.

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Carozza further added, “We all recognize that we need restrictive standards when it comes to malicious content. In many cases, and even more often than not, we have the ability to restore, remove, or remove content. “I have taken a position that supports the protection of That’s because freedom of expression in situations like this is critical to understanding what is happening and responding to it. ”

According to the report, countries that have banned or severely restricted social media include North Korea, China, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Belarus, Cuba, Qatar, and Syria. ing. Committee to Protect Journalists.

iranian surveillance camera

Surveillance cameras are seen on the streets of Tehran, Iran, on April 9, 2023. (Majid Asgaripour/West Asia News Agency, via Reuters)

“I think we need to pay special attention to the role that governments and dictatorships are playing… They’re trying to shut down the internet, they’re imposing certain standards on technology companies, they’re essentially “We are trying to allow the platform to be used as a means of surveillance, surveillance and persecution of political and religious opponents,” Carozza said.

He further added, “We [need to] Be very careful about the connections between governments and platforms. And strive for maximum transparency on this issue so that people can be aware and criticize so that civil society can organize and healthy democratic governments can respond appropriately. ”

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white house protest

Pro-Palestinian activists raise red smoke bombs and shout slogans during a demonstration in Lafayette Square near the White House in Washington, DC, on January 13, 2024. (Probal Rashid/Lightrocket via Getty Images)

Regarding the negative effects and lack of promotion of social media and religious freedom, Mr. Sabatier cited lack of cooperation as the main problem.

“There are some groups dedicated solely to the study of hate speech… There are also some NGOs, and people are writing books. But guess what… they’re not collaborating. How does that information get into academia? And beyond the bubble of technology companies and religious freedom?” Or to government officials? ” Sabatier said.


The solution, she says, “requires a task force for working people, and that information needs to be shared, not bridged, to the community.” [we need to] We bridge that to faith leaders on the ground. They are the most trusted people in any community. ”