On 1 June 2021, the International Scientific Conference “The impact of digital platforms and social media on freedom of expression and pluralism – view of young researchers” took place in Warsaw, which was organised within the Central European Professors’ Network 2021 by the Scientific Circle of Criminal Procedure of the Faculty of Law and Administration of the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw and the Institute of Justice in Warsaw, in cooperation with the Ferenc Madl Institute of Comparative Law and the European Association for Comparative Law.
The conference was organised as a dissemination event of Bartłomiej Oręziak, the member of the research group titled The Impact of Digital Platforms and Social Media on Freedom of Expression and Pluralism.
The main aim of this event was to enable young researchers to present their research results. The conference was based on two main key issues:
- analysis of the influence of Fake news on the internet with regard to the freedom of expression and pluralism of opinions;
- analysis of the influence of censorship on the internet with regard to the freedom of expression and pluralism of opinions.
The conference was officially opened by the Director of the Justice Institute and Head of the Department of Criminal Procedure at the University of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski in Warsaw, prof. Marcin Wielec. He warmly welcomed the invited guests and expressed his great joy at the participation of Polish scientists in the European Professors’ Network 2021.
The Director of the Institute of Justice then gave the floor to Bartłomiej Oręziak, the Coordinator of the Strategic Analysis Center. Bartłomiej Oręziak welcomed all speakers and guests and exposed hope that the deliberations at the conference would be fruitful.
The first panel of the conference was started by Bartłomiej Oręziak from the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski in Warsaw. The speaker presented a paper entitled “Censorship legally justified in Poland: the impact on freedom of expression and pluralism”. In his speech, he emphasized the role of EU law and the principles of its application, including the role of CJEU judgments. He also shared his reflections. Legally justified censorship constitutes a direct restriction of the rights and freedoms provided for in the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. It is necessary to examine whether such strictly defined rules of connection constitute the necessary, or least onerous, measure available to an individual and whether the benefit of applying those measures and the burden imposed on the individual was properly balanced. An analysis that will not focus on generalities, but will analyze each CJEU judgment separately.
The second speaker was Tomasz Bojanowski from the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski in Warsaw. He delivered a lecture entitled “The impact of hate speech on online content censorship in the face of freedom of speech”. The speaker said that the topics of freedom of speech and hate speech are related and interact with each other. Freedom of speech and hate speech have a great impact on the content published online on social networking sites. The Internet and social media provide many opportunities, but at the same time can be a big danger, because it can be a source of committing crimes and limitation of fundamental human rights and freedoms. He stressed that if we want our society to remain pluralist, we must take legal steps in this regard. They must be preceded by appropriate research, analysis and exchange of views. Only in this way will we be able to develop regulations that will ensure proper protection of the Convention right to freedom of speech.
The next one was Klaudia Łuniewska from the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski in Warsaw with paper entitled “Analysis of the regulations on censorship of content on social networks in Poland from the perspective of relevant regulations of the European Union”. She drew attention to an interesting issue arising from the directive is the admissibility of publishing content on the Internet in accordance with EU copyright law. Art. 3 sec. 1 of the Directive states that “Member States shall provide authors with the exclusive right to authorize or prohibit any communication to the public of their works, by wire or wireless means, including the making available to the public of their works in such a way that members of the public may access them from a place and at a time individually chosen by them.”. The interpretation of the term “public disclosure” has become a moot point for Internet censorship.
The second panel started with a speech by Andrej Bozinovski from the Faculty of Law of the University of Zagreb. He presented a paper entitled „Ending the Digital Wild West of Disinformation in Europe: Protecting Free Speech in the Age of Algorithms”. He focused on four issues: 1. the rise of artificial intelligence (AI); 2. the Big Four and content moderation; 3. the Cambridge Analytica scandal; 4. EU legislation strikes back. He introduced that we are dealing with the Big Four, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. In addition to promoting an open and connected world, these companies store a huge amount of data that is not so much used for fair purposes. content moderation is the supervision of materials on the Internet. They sell data to consulting companies, which in turn misuse user data and create specialized content for each person according to their profile. Their defense is that every user has the overriding right to freedom of speech, which is protected in the US by the First Amendment
The next speaker was Nejc Urankar from the Faculty of Law of the University of Ljubljana, who presented a paper entitled „Are You Watching Closely? The Many Faces of Censorship in the Digital Age”. The speaker tried to answer the question “what the censorship is?”. According to him, it is the official control of the flow of information and ideas. He also mainly presented the assumptions, which are: 1. State as a primary censor; 2. Scarcity of public information and ideas; 3. Sufficient quality public attention. He also discussed the Speech control techniques they are direct censorship, online harassment and attacks, distorting and flooding (reverse censorship), control of the main speech platforms.
Janos Szinek was the last speaker in the second panel from the Ferenc Deák Doctoral School in Law of the Miskolc University. He presented paper entitled „The impact of the Facebook Oversight Board on Freedom of Expression”. The speaker said that Facebook Oversight Board to monitor Facebook’s own regulations. The aim is to protect the freedom of expression on the platform. The Facebook Oversight Board is an improvement on a current practice whereby social media companies are left to decide by themselves what people get to see online, enforcing often unclear content rules with little transparency. By putting difficult content moderation decisions to an independent group of experts, it can be hoped that we will see better outcomes for freedom of expression.
The third panel was opened by Ewa Płocha from the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski in Warsaw with paper entitled „Deepfake as a new disinformation tool on social media”. Speaker presented issues concerning Deepfakes technology. She indicated under what circumstances the Deepfake phenomenon arosed and explained what is deepfake, involving in particular often cited definitions. Then she discussed the types of Deepfakes. Finally, she presented ways of use Deepfakes on social media and actiones taken to distinguish Deepfakes from real content.
The next speaker was János Tamás Papp from the Pázmány Péter Catholic University. He presented paper entitled „The impact of social media on democratic discourses”. The speaker drew attention to the problems of global speech regulations. Social media has becomethe most important platform for online discourse. He also told about private regulations. The basic of this regulations is notconstitutional principles or laws, but rather the socialexperience of the platform.
The next speaker was Novak Vujičić from Faculty of Law, University of Belgrade with paper entitled „Copyright and Freedom of Expression on Social Media”. He paid attention on subject of protection of copyright. Copyright protects original works of authorship and consists of two sets of right: economic and moral rights. Posted copirighted content on social media platforms may constitute copyright infringement.
The last speakers were Elżbieta Antosiewicz and Karolina Bać from the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Rzeszów. The speakers presented paper entitled „Freedom of speech in social media – cliche or real value?” They talked about the types of freedoms resulting from the constitution of the Republic of Poland. It also points out that censorship is prohibited. Society should treat freedom of speech as an opportunity to express our views freely. Moreover, we have the right to do so both in the private and public spheres. freedom of speech must not infringe upon another person’s interests or even harm them. Along with the growing popularity of social media, anonymous accounts whose task was to hate others or even harass others began to appear more and more often. Increasingly, the media could hear about phishing, bullying and pedophilia. On the one hand, right-wing organizations complain that their profiles are removed, blocked or suspended, on the other hand, let us remember that there is a large group of people who complain that they are victims of hate speech and violent content – they too should have the right to appropriate response.
At the very end of the event, the floor was once again taken by Bartłomiej Oręziak, who thanked everyone for coming and for the papers delivered.