Meet the Wikimedians promoting free knowledge and human rights at RightsCon ’22 this June

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RightsCon ’19 conference stage in Tunis, Tunisia. Image by Brahim Guedich, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Wikimedia Foundation is proud this year to support RightsCon for the second time. This global summit, hosted by AccessNow, brings together people from around the world to discuss human rights in the digital age. This year our financial support of the conference as well as our presence at it are both unique. 

The Foundation has contributed funds to RightsCon’s accessibility initiatives and Connectivity Fund. This assistance is closely tied to our movement’s vision of a world in which all people can freely participate in the sum of all knowledge. By providing support to make the conference accessible in more languages, across more devices, and via additional internet connectivity, we help welcome the knowledge and communities that have been excluded by historical structures of power and privilege. Early numbers released by the RightsCon organizers indicate the fund is likely successful in prompting knowledge equity: out of a total of 717 individual applications, 98% came from the Global South, 54% were from women or non-binary people, and 86% featured first-time applicants. 

To make Wikimedia more visible at the event, this year our Global Advocacy and Public Policy team called upon Wikimedians from around the world to partner with us in order to submit proposals for sessions and conversations that we could host and hold together. Not only does the Wikimedia community have unique perspectives and expertise, but editors and other volunteers are also our strongest allies in advocating for laws, policies, and norms that promote and protect free knowledge and Wikimedia projects. RightsCon ’22 will feature ten sessions where Wikipedians are hosts and/or participants, five of which were co-created with our team. Members of our movement will be championing Wikimedia approaches on emerging challenges to a free and open internet, including privacy and surveillance, internet access, inclusion, and internet shutdowns and disruptions.

Below is an overview of the sessions with Wikimedia participation. Foundation staff or Wikimedia volunteers who are interested in attending RightsCon can register for free until 3 June 2022. We hope to see you there!

The five sessions that were submitted with members from the community

Fighting disinformation in Persian Wikipedia: The good, the bad, the AI

Format: Tech Demo

Presenter: Amir Sarabadani (Wikimedian)

Details: This tech demo covers two tools that members of Persian Wikipedia developed to combat government disinformation campaigns. These tools have made it possible to share and update information on Persian Wikipedia without the fear of persecution. As such, they have become crucial to foster the resilience of Persian Wikipedia and may inspire other groups to bring similar initiatives back to their communities.

Using Wikipedia to advance human rights and democracy, using constructive conflict to create quality articles 

Format: Workshop

Presenters: Luisinia Ferrante (Wikimedia Argentina), Spencer Graves (Wikimedian), Franziska Putz (Wikimedia Foundation)

Details: This workshop will demonstrate how controversy can be a productive force behind “the wisdom of crowds” that makes it possible for websites like Wikipedia to share freely accessible information online. Case studies on Spanish, Chinese, French, and English Wikipedia articles will demonstrate how their development was informed by social, economic, and political debates in each of the contexts they describe as well as by the different perspectives and approaches between volunteer editors. This session will expose participants to the experience of co-creating knowledge about human rights online.

No “right” approach, but many effective ones: Moderation approaches for online information about political processes

Format: Workshop

Presenters: Patricia Díaz-Rubio (Wikimedia Chile), Augustina Del Campo (CELE), Kate Levan (Wikimedia Foundation), Nathan Forrester (Wikimedia Foundation)

Details: This immersive workshop brings together organizations with unique, community-led moderation approaches in order to present participants with case studies on disinformation around electoral processes. Panelists will engage participants in analyzing the issues at hand, discussing challenges to moderating specific content, and will then walk the audience through the moderation process employed in their context. The goal of the session is for the audience to experience how hard the job is, as well as the variety of effective approaches there are to content moderation, debunking the idea that there is a single, perfect process for moderating online spaces. 

How lawmakers in Southeast Asia can safeguard human rights while addressing online disinformation during elections

Format: Panel

Presenters: Rachel Arinii Judhistari (Wikimedia Foundation), Kristina Gadaingan (ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights), Members of Parliament from the Philippines and Thailand

Details: This interactive panel seeks to broaden the discussion about human rights safeguards within internet regulation regimes in Southeast Asia, especially the nuances surrounding online campaigning and the rising threat of disinformation, how they influence political conversations, and also potentially undermine electoral processes. The panel will pose these questions to the members of parliaments, civil society, and platform hosts. It will allow participants to contribute to the free-flowing discussion, and to provide perspectives from their own experiences and contexts as well.

#WikiforHumanRights: Creating and editing human rights content on Wikipedia

Format: Workshop

Presenters: Faisal Da Supremo (Wikimedia Ghana),  Kolawole Oyewole (Wiki Fan Club, and Lagos State University), Iván Martínez (Wikimedia México), Luisina Ferrante (Wikimedia Argentina), Alex Stinson (Wikimedia Foundation)

Details: This workshop will introduce participants to the basic skills needed to create and edit human rights content on Wikipedia. Experienced Wikipedians will teach basic editing skills, share best practices around citing reputable sources, and answer participants’ questions during this interactive session. Participants are encouraged to identify articles on human rights concepts or content that are lacking or need to be bolstered in their linguistic communities before the session. The session will provide open editing time for participants to create or edit content on their selected topics with the assistance of experienced Wikipedians. It will conclude with a review of best practices, an update on the #WikiForHumanRights campaign, and a question and answer period.

In addition, Wikimedians will be hosting and participating in a series of other sessions

When you can’t see your city (online): Why you don’t want a country without Freedom of Panorama (FOP)

Format: Lightning Talk

Presenters: Ramzy Muliawan (Wikimedia Indonesia)

Details: This lightning talk examines the freedom of panorama (FOP), and how the absence of this limitation on copyright threatens the implementation of Wikimedia’s 2030 strategy to “provide for safety and inclusion,” especially in countries where Wikimedia communities are emerging. The talk will review the existing freedom of panorama regulations (or lack thereof) in Indonesia, and propose to Wikimedia organizations and communities in Indonesia, as well as other emerging Wikimedia communities and like-minded partners, how to best navigate the muddy waters of the clash between the underdeveloped policy landscape and the ever-changing nature of online efforts to preserve and free knowledge.

The danger of neglecting “non-lucrative” languages

Format: Lightning Talk

Presenters: Anass Sedrati (Wikimedia Morocco)

Details: Having access to information in your mother tongue is a basic human right. Wikimedia projects may be doing well compared to other actors, but how can they be improved as well? Although languages in the digital world are not represented equally, Wikimedia projects have helped to represent more languages online, since the only prerequisites to have a Wikipedia in a particular language is an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) code and an active community. Yet even on Wikipedia projects this process is imperfect. This lightning talk explores the fraught manner in which languages are represented online, and puts forward the argument that more individuals need to be involved in enriching Wikimedia content, and in diversifying the languages that are represented on other platforms.

Regulation for the few or many?

Format: Panel

Presenters: Caroline Greer (TikTok), Konstantinos Komaitis (The New York Times), Rebecca MacKinnon (Wikimedia Foundation), Jillian York (EFF), Eliška Pírková (AccessNow)

Details: This panel will discuss the risks associated with policymakers and legislators around the world crafting legislation with a small subset of large companies in mind. The panelists will discuss the theme using the latest policy development initiatives and practical examples. What is the impact on the broader tech ecosystem of one-size-fits-all laws? How can we ensure equitable policymaking that works for users as well? The session seeks to make recommendations on how the risks can be minimized, and how we can evolve to a more sophisticated model of tech policy- and lawmaking.

Building a digital rights initiative in the Caribbean 

Format: Social Hour

Presenters: Wikimedians of the Caribbean User Group, JAAKLAC initiative, AfroCrowd, Access Now

Details: Social hours are an informal space where participants with common interests can connect and expand a network or coalition. There is no participation limit, so come along!

Empowering Community Content Moderation

Format: Panel

Presenters: Jessica Ashooh (Reddit), Rose Coogan (Github), Allison Davenport (Wikimedia Foundation), Guillaume Rischard (OpenStreetMap Foundation)

Details: The panel will feature policy leadership from a variety of platforms with community content moderation, who will discuss best practices for fostering effective, scalable, and rights-based community content moderation online. Along with touching on the advantages of community moderation, the panel will also discuss challenges with the model, and how policies for digital communication can leave room for individuals to participate in effective self-regulation, collaboration, and good faith moderation of online content.

* Please note that session dates and times might be subject to change. For up-to-date information on these, please check the RightsCon schedule.

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