UCL Grand Challenges


Expert panel debates free speech in the age of social media

19 December 2018

In an evening of discussion, an expert panel debated how global communication technologies have affected freedom of speech in an age when communication platforms cross legislative boundaries.

The world has never been better connected, yet freedom of speech has, in many ways, never been such a pertinent topic. The rise and exponential growth of global communication technologies has been accompanied by curtailing of freedom of speech, restrictions on the press and media, and violations of human rights in many countries and societies. How, then, have global communication technologies affected freedom of speech and how might freedom of speech legislation be upheld in an age when communication platforms cross geographical and legal boundaries?

Organised by UCL’s Grand Challenge of Justice & Equality, Dr Myriam Hunter-Henin (Reader in Law and Religion and Comparative Law, UCL Laws), Professor Margaret O'Brien (Director of Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education), Colm McAuliffe (PhD candidate at Birkbeck College, University of London) and Dr Saladin Meckled-Garcia (Director of UCL Institute for Human Rights and Associate Professor in Human Rights and Political Theory at UCL) discussed the difficulties of upholding freedom of speech in an age when communications cross geographical boundaries, and consequently, country-specific laws governing such practices. 

The event comprised a screening of a short historical film from the British Film Institute archive, followed by panel debate around the pressures and means of regulating free speech in cross-governmental organisations.