15:30 - 16:00
Trolling the Messenger: Censorship and Regulation of Information Disorders in Latin America

Short thesis

While the regulation of information disorders, false information, harassment and hate speech constitutes an important trend all over the world, the trend in Latin American countries is to regulate online content using these as excuses for the restriction of dissent. This might affect democratic spaces in a myriad of ways, particularly in contexts where democracy is weak or relatively new, and this should be our main concern when considering regulations that allow restrictions to online content.


In Latin America, recent trends point towards the  regulation of online content, particularly in social media, under the excuse of controlling the flow of misinformation and hate speech. Acknowledging that hate speech -both online and offline- is an expression of conflict and tension between different social groups, we also acknowledge the complexity of the relationships this implies in the Latin American context, where technology often replicates preexisting instances of power and inequality, and violence is a problem that crosses -sometimes subjacent, but often in a much more explicit way- most social interactions where that power and that inequality come into play. Both government and platforms are involved in this power game, and the ability to restrict certain content, and to decide which content is to be restricted, shifts the balance even more. At the same time, while there are other, non-regulatory options to handle these issues, Latin American governments keep insisting in choosing the punitive road. Therefore, analysing the hate speech and the misinformation phenomena while turning a blind eye to the sociopolitical context in which regulation of this discourse is happening both at a local and at a regional scale, and playing into the unbalance between interests and rights, would only allow us an incomplete, partial and biased analysis of how these regulations are affecting the way citizens get involved in the democratic life of the societies they live in.