Brute Force Censorship Never Went Out Of Style: Why Internet Shutdowns Fuel Political Violence, And What To Do About It

Anita Gohdes

Brute-force censorship persists globally—from Iran and Ethiopia to the invasion of Ukraine — large-scale Internet blackouts are everywhere. Governments claim they reduce violence, when the opposite is true. This talk will investigate how shutdowns fuel violence and what we can do about it.
Stage 3

Shadow-banning, down-ranking, limiting account functionalities: As content moderation tools on social media are becoming ever more sophisticated, and their use is increasingly requested by governments across the world, we might be under the impression that censorship is becoming more nuanced. But brute-force censorship never went out of style: from Iran to Ethiopia, to the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have seen the employment of large-scale Internet blackouts during violent political episodes. While some governments purport that shutdowns help curtail violence, the opposite is the case: they are used to crush opposition, hide atrocities, sow fear, and they massively impact accountability efforts. The talk will investigate how shutdowns fuel violence, and what we can do about it.

Following the lecture, there will be a book signing session with Anita for her book, "Repression in the Digital Age: Surveillance, Censorship, and the Dynamics of State Violence," at the Dussmann Book Table.

Bild Anita Gohdes
Professor of International and Cyber Security