OPINION: Analyzing UNESCO’s Plan to Regulate the Internet and Free Speech

Imagine relying on social media for your news only to discover UNESCO has a plan to control what you see online. They claim it’s for our protection, but let’s dissect their approach to managing digital platforms and uncover the potential ramifications.

In a world where 60% of people get their news from social media, combating ‘fake information’ has become a central challenge. UNESCO, or the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, presents itself as a guardian of people’s rights with a plan to address online disinformation. However, a closer examination of UNESCO’s proposals for digital platform governance reveals a complex set of policies that could significantly impact freedom of speech.

At the core of UNESCO’s strategy are five key principles outlined in their guidelines for digital platform governance:

Conducting Due Diligence on Human Rights:
UNESCO suggests platforms audit their impact on human rights, especially in the lead-up to elections, aiming to ensure their integrity. – Critics caution against potential misuse of such audits to suppress specific narratives and control information flow, citing concerns about powerful entities using allegations of “disinformation” and “conspiracy theories” to stifle genuine information and political speech.

Adhering to International Human Rights Standards:
The second principle emphasizes adherence to global human rights standards, advocating for non-discrimination and equal treatment in design and content moderation. – The U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s report criticizes the “pseudoscience of disinformation,” warning of its weaponization to silence constitutionally protected political speech, particularly from conservative perspectives. This raises concerns about suppressing diverse viewpoints to conform to a particular narrative.

UNESCO urges platforms to be transparent about adherence to their standards, handling complaints, and managing advertising. – Many policies proposed by UNESCO have already been implemented by U.S.-based digital platforms, often influenced by the Biden administration, according to the recent congressional report.

Making Information Accessible to All Users:
The fourth principle stresses the availability of information and tools in users’ own languages. – With UNESCO including members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in its leadership, concerns arise about a potential standardized approach limiting cultural expressions and individuality, especially if influenced by CCP’s political agenda.

Accountability to Stakeholders:
The final principle calls for platforms to be accountable to their stakeholders, enabling users to report rule violations. – The U.S. government has exited UNESCO twice in the past due to concerns about extremism and hostility to American values. However, the accountability mechanism proposed could inadvertently foster a culture of surveillance, where users act as informants, potentially leading to self-censorship and inhibiting the free exchange of ideas. The Biden administration rejoined the agency earlier this year despite objections from lawmakers.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any organization, group, or individual. The author intends to share personal perspectives for the purpose of discussion and analysis. It is important to note that this article is not intended to influence or dictate how anyone should think or believe. Readers are encouraged to critically assess the information presented and form their own independent opinions.