Wednesday, 19 October 2022

Law and labour: Two emerging frontiers of social media platform governance in African countries

Presentation by Tomiwa Ilori - Online Event


My talk focuses on two emerging frontiers of platform governance in African countries. The first frontier, which is mainly 'legal' and regulatory in nature, situates the region within a postcolonial legal critiquethe continued impacts of the exploitative features of colonialism through state actors and social media platforms in Africa. This frontier is illustrated by extant old colonial laws in many African countries which have found their ways into recent cyber-regulatory laws and policies. States weaponise these laws and social media platforms also kowtow to both these laws and the state and as a result, the average African social media platform user is stuck between two power-hungry giants. This leads to their online rights and by extension, their speech on these platforms, being dictated by a faulty foundation steeped in oppression and racial injustice. The second frontier is the colonially similar exploitation of African labour by social media platforms. This frontier is also new in that content moderation labour as a subset of platform governance is gaining traction in African countries. This kind of labour, outsourced by social media platforms and dubbed as a 'sweatshop', underpays African content moderators, overwork them and then gag them for speaking against unfair labour practices. A closer look at both frontiers shows how law and labour in Africa is exploited for the gains of colonialism and this is what my talk focuses on. My talk seeks to further unpack these issues and suggest possible ways of extricating the colonial grip on social media platform governance in Africa especially as it relates to law and labour. 

Dr Tomiwa Ilori is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Human Rights (Centre), Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria. He works mainly on digital rights-related research/projects and more specifically on platform governance and communication surveillance law. He also works at the Expression, Information and Digital Rights (EIDR) Unit of the Centre. He holds an LLM and LLD in human rights and digital technologies from the Centre.

The event is part of the Seminar Series “Platform Politics and Policy”.

Researchers from outside the WZB who would like to attend may email the organizer, robert.gorwa [at], to be put onto the seminar series mailing list.