Content moderation in Bulgaria: a conversation in Meta (highlights from the conference)

On September 13, 2022, Media Literacy Coalition Bulgaria and Meta hosted for the very time an event, co-organized by the Menlo Park-based big tech company and the leading non-governmental network organization dedicated to the development of media literacy in Bulgaria. The conference was dedicated to content moderation in local context and is the second case of partnership between MLC and Meta after the joint campaign against disinformation carried out earlier this year.

In sixty minutes, Meta’s Central and Eastern Europe Public Policy Director Jacob TurowskiMariya Yurukova – lecturer at Sofia University and a media policy and disinformation expert, Factcheck Bulgaria’s Dr. Nikola Tulechki, a knowledge engineer and data analyst, and U.S. Embassy’s Information Officer Peter Vanderwall exchanged their expertise, observations and solutions-oriented views in a moderated discussion. 

Iglika Ivanova – а board member of the Media Literacy Coalition, researcher in media policy and law with a focus on platform governance, member of the Ministry of Culture’s Media literacy Expert Council, and Media Education Lab’s supported Northeast Media Literacy Conference co-director – moderated the panel discussion.

from left to right: Iglika Ivanova, Dr Yurukova, Peter Vanderwall, Jacob Turowski, and Dr Tulechki

In the second half of the event, the panelists – in fact almost entirely Mr Turowski – took questions from the audience composed of experts in the field and members of civil society organizations. 

Jacob Turowski 
Mariya Yurukova, Peter Vanderwall and Jacob Turowski

The panelists addressed questions on what is the biggest challenge to the moderation of content created and distributed on a global scale; how different types of content (i.e not only illegal as hate speech, but also harmful like misinformation, disinformation, propaganda amidst war, political speech) are analyzed, categorized and moderated; how disinformation is spread through coordinated networks of influence, why this is an issue and what is the current strategy to tackle it; why content moderation and online platforms regulation is a balancing act; what type of content is (and could be) suppressed and by whom – humans, algorithms, user/business/organizations pages and groups own moderators; what is the place and role of media literacy and civic education in the multi-stakeholder approach to tackling the challenges of content moderation.

Nikola Tulechki, Data for good, Factcheck Bulgaria

In the second part of the conference representatives of different civic sector organizations, media and institutions took the opportunity to voice their views, criticism and suggestions towards Meta’s content moderation policy, measures and tools and the effectiveness of its implementation.. 

Panelists and guests of the conference. The event took place at the Launchee Event Center 
Almost one third of the guest took the chance to share experiences – from being blocked after coordinated misuse of the flagging system of Facebook to observing the implications of widely spread disinformation – and put questions concerning the mechanisms of content moderation on the most popular social media platform (Facebook) in Bulgaria
Illiyan Vassilev, Alternativata
Todor Galev, Center for the Study of Democracy

Representing Meta for Central and Eastern Europe its Public Policy Director Mr Turowski expressed the company’s readiness to work closely with Bulgarian stakeholder for a better understanding of the specific Bulgarian context, the challenges and current deficits in moderating content in Bulgarian, the risks to Bulgarian society related to the spread of propaganda narratives, disinformation and silencing of critical voices by manipulating the platform’s reporting systems.

Jacob Turowski received and answered most of the questions during the Q&A session

The event was recorded live and translated in Bulgarian language. Both recordings – with the original audio in Ensligh.

Dr Justin Toms and Dr Mariya Yurukova
Lyubomir Alamanov, Center for Analysis and Crisis Communications
Dr. Rumena Filipova, Institute for Global Analytics
From left to right: Peter Vanderwall (U.S. Embassy), Jacob Turowski (Meta), Vitnija Saldava (Meta) , Ekaterina Kudrina (Meta) 

Photos: Media Literacy Coalition; photographer: Ilian Ruzhin 

Video: Media Literacy Coalition; Stefan Iliev, Launchee Event Center

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