APrIGF 2022 Session Proposal Submission Form
Part 1 - Lead Organizer
Contact Person
Mr. Tanka Aryal
Organization / Affiliation (Please state "Individual" if appropriate) *
Digital Rights Nepal
General Secretary
Economy of Residence
Primary Stakeholder Group
Civil Society
Part 2 - Session Proposal
Session Title
Social Media Regulation during Elections: Expanding or Limiting Digital Democracy?
Session Format
Panel Discussion
Where do you plan to organize your session?
Onsite at the venue (with online moderator for questions and comments from remote participants)
Specific Issues for Discussion
In recent years, a number of electoral events around the world have given rise to concerns among election regulators and civil society groups about the role of social media in spreading mis/disinformation during elections, with the potential to manipulate the conduct and outcome of elections. As a result, there have been increased calls for the social media and online content to be regulated, particularly during elections. From a human rights perspective, seeking to regulate the content found on online platforms carries serious human rights risks. The risk would be to create a censorship model that would limit freedom of expression and citizen’s right to make informed choices during elections.
In such a context the discussion will focus on:
-The impact of mis/disinformation in an unregulated social media platform in influencing election outcome;
-Whether additional regulation of social media is during elections?;
- Is the plurality of media enough to counter disinformation during an election?;
- The impact regulated social media can have on free speech;
- Regulation of automated accounts used for intimidation or propaganda during elections;
- Potential solutions to regulating social media without undermining freedom of speech;
- Interplay between the right to privacy and the importance of online anonymity and encryption;
- Social media regulation impacting the voter right of making informed choice;
- Navigating trend of social media regulation in Asia Pacific region; and
- What the UN special procedures have stated about these concerns?
Describe the Relevance of Your Session to APrIGF
The session as elaborated above will deal with the conundrum of regulating social media during elections which may impact freedom of expression of citizens and if left unregulated may play a role in spreading mis/disinformation during elections. The goal of the discussion is to share experience and knowledge to tackle the prevalence of mis/disinformation in the social media influencing elections and its potential solution i.e social media regulation without undermining citizens freedom of expression and informed political choices. Additionally, this session will contribute in exploring the nuances of the issues and identify necessary measures and actions to be taken in respective countries in the region in relation to the upcoming elections.

This year’s APrIGF overarching theme is inclusion, sustainability and trust within these themes APrIGF had encouraged proposals on key issues including Digital rights/ Human rights, freedom of expression, content moderation & censorship. The discussion will be particularly related to the content moderation and censorship of social media during elections at the same time protection of human rights, such as freedom of expression, on the Internet. Hence, thematic tracks and issues as recommended by APrIGF will be addressed and covered during the session.
Methodology / Agenda (Please add rows by clicking "+" on the right)
Time frame (e.g. 5 minutes, 20 minutes, should add up to 60 minutes) Description
5 minutes The moderator will briefly outline the key issues and introduce the panelists.
15 minutes Moderator will put forward questions around trend, related issues and challenges of social media regulation during elections and its impact on free speech to each panelists
15 minutes Moderator will facilitate second round of questions on best appropriate ways to regulate social media during election to create a balance between ensuring FoE and managing mis/disinformation
25 minutes Moderated Q & A with participants and panelist
Moderators & Speakers Info (Please complete where possible)
  • Moderator (Primary)

    • Name: Tanka Aryal
    • Organization: Digital Rights Nepal
    • Designation: General Secretary
    • Gender: Male
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Nepal
    • Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Moderator (Back-up)

    • Name: Saurav Bhattarai
    • Organization: Digital Rights Nepal
    • Designation: Program Manager
    • Gender: Male
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Nepal
    • Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Speaker 1

    • Name: Michael Caster
    • Organization: ARTICLE 19
    • Designation: Asia Digital Programme Manage
    • Gender: Male
    • Economy / Country of Residence: USA
    • Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
    • Expected Presence: Online
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Speaker 2

    • Name: Nikhil Pahwa
    • Organization: MediaNama
    • Designation: Founder
    • Gender: Male
    • Economy / Country of Residence: India
    • Stakeholder Group: Press / Media
    • Expected Presence: Online
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Speaker 3

    • Name: Sadaf Khan
    • Organization: Media Matters
    • Designation: Co-Founder
    • Gender: Female
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Pakistan
    • Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
    • Expected Presence: Online
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Speaker 4

    • Name: Vera Franz
    • Organization: Open Society Foundations
    • Designation: Division Director Technology & Society Team
    • Gender: Female
    • Economy / Country of Residence: United Kingdom
    • Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
    • Expected Presence: Online
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
Please explain the rationale for choosing each of the above contributors to the session.
Nikhil Pahwa is an Indian journalist, digital rights activist, and founder of MediaNama, a mobile and digital news portal. He has been a key commentator on stories and debates around Indian digital media companies, censorship and Internet and mobile regulation in India. He has experience deposing before the Delhi government and India's Parliamentary Standing committee for IT on social media regulation.

Michael is a human rights researcher and advocate with over 10 years of experience in East and Southeast Asia. In his present role, Michael manages the Internet Freedom Initiative coalition and is more broadly involved in ARTICLE 19’s internet freedom work throughout Asia-Pacific. Prior to joining ARTICLE 19, Michael was the Asia program officer at Civil Rights Defenders covering Southeast Asia. He is the co-founder and senior advisor with Safeguard Defenders, a human rights organization focused on China.

Sadaf Khan has been working with media development CSOs, mainly for policy advocacy, media ethics, journalist safety and capacity building for development, data and digital journalism. She has been advocating progressive and effective regulation for mainstream media, effective policies for open and secure internet and incorporation of digital technologies in mainstream journalism.

Vera Franz oversees Technology & Society Team in Open Society Foundations. She has been deeply involved in the launch and development of the global access to knowledge (A2K) movement and the successful campaign for the WIPO Copyright Treaty for Visually Impaired. She is also working to strengthen civil society advocating for the protection of human rights in the online environment. Franz has studied in Canada, Italy, Austria, and the UK and holds an M.Sc. in media and communications from the London School of Economics and an M.Phil. in political science from Salzburg University.

Aforementioned experience and expertise of speakers is relevant and fits the discussion.
Please declare if you have any potential conflict of interest with the Program Committee 2022.
Are you or other session contributors planning to apply for the APrIGF Fellowship Program 2022?
Number of Attendees (Please fill in numbers)
    I agree that my data can be submitted to and processed by APrIGF organizers for the program selection of APrIGF 2022.