A powerful United Nations agency has unveiled a plan to regulate social media and online communication while cracking down on what it describes as “false information” and “conspiracy theories,” sparking alarm among free-speech advocates and top U.S. lawmakers.
In its 59-page report released this month, the U.N. Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) outlined a series of “concrete measures which must be implemented by all stakeholders: governments, regulatory authorities, civil society, and the platforms themselves.”
This approach includes the imposition of global policies, through institutions such as governments and businesses, designed to stop the spread of various forms of speech while promoting objectives such as “cultural diversity” and “gender equality.”
In particular, the U.N. agency aims to create an “Internet of Trust” by targeting what it calls “misinformation,” “disinformation,” “hate speech,” and “conspiracy theories.”
Examples of expression flagged to be stopped or restricted include concerns about elections, public health measures, and advocacy that could constitute “incitement to discrimination.”
Critics are warning that allegations of “disinformation” and “conspiracy theories” have increasingly been used by powerful forces in government and Big Tech to silence true information and even core political speech.
Just this month, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee released a report blasting the “pseudoscience of disinformation.”
Among other concerns, the committee found this “pseudoscience” has been “weaponized” by what lawmakers refer to as the “Censorship Industrial Complex.”
The goal: silence constitutionally protected political speech, mostly by conservatives.
“The pseudoscience of disinformation is now—and has always been—nothing more than a political ruse most frequently targeted at communities and individuals holding views contrary to the prevailing narratives,” states the congressional report, “The Weaponization of ‘Disinformation’ Pseudo-Experts and Bureaucrats.”
Indeed, many of the policies called for by UNESCO have already been implemented by U.S.-based digital platforms, often at the behest of the Biden administration, the latest congressional report makes clear.
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers nevertheless expressed alarm about the new UNESCO plan.
“I have repeatedly and publicly criticized the Biden administration’s misguided decision to rejoin UNESCO, putting U.S. taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) told The Epoch Times regarding the social-media plan.
Calling UNESCO a “deeply flawed entity,” Mr. McCaul said he is especially concerned that the organization “promotes the interests of authoritarian regimes—including the Chinese Communist Party.”
Indeed, UNESCO, like many other U.N. agencies, includes multiple members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in its leadership ranks, such as Deputy Director-General Xing Qu, The Epoch Times has reported.
The CCP has repeatedly made clear that even while working in international organizations, CCP members are expected to follow communist party orders.
Lawmakers on the House Appropriations Subcommittee dealing with international organizations are currently working to cut or reduce funding to various U.N. agencies that lawmakers say are using U.S. taxpayer money improperly.
Already, the U.S. government has twice exited UNESCO—under the Reagan and the Trump administrations—due to concerns about what the administrations described as extremism, hostility to American values, and other problems.
The Biden administration rejoined earlier this year over the objections of lawmakers, The Epoch Times reported.