USCIRF Hearing on Combatting Online Hate Speech and Disinformation Targeting Religious Communities

Oct 21


Oct 21st 10:00am - Oct 21st 11:30am


U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Hearing

Combatting Online Hate Speech and Disinformation
Targeting Religious Communities


Wednesday, October 21, 2020
10:00 – 11:30 AM
Virtual Hearing

Hearing Transcript

Hearing Summary

Please join the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for a virtual hearing about how some governments use and enable others to use social media platforms to sow disinformation and hate speech that target religious communities and incite violence against them.

During the past two decades, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have emerged as invaluable tools for connecting people around the world. However, we have also witnessed the use of social media to spread false and discriminatory information that dehumanizes specific groups of people, including faith communities and religious minorities. Online hate speech and misinformation has been used to target and mobilize violence against the Rohingya in Burma, Jews in Iran, Shi’a Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, to name only a few.

The U.S. government and the international community must do more to understand how social media technologies are used to mobilize religious freedom violations, and work together to address this phenomenon. Witnesses will give analysis on these topics and present policy recommendations to the U.S. government.

Opening Remarks


  • David Kaye, Clinical Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine; former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression
    Written Testimony
  • Susan Benesch, Executive Director, Dangerous Speech Project
    Written Testimony
  • Shakuntala Banaji, Professor of Media, Culture and Social Change, London School of Economics
    Written Testimony
  • Waris Husain, Adjunct Professor, Howard University; former USCIRF Policy Analyst
    Written Testimony

Witnesses’ Bios


This hearing is open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the public, and the media. Members of the media should register online and can email for any questions or to schedule an interview. The video recording of the hearing will be posted on the Commission website. For any additional questions, please contact Jamie Staley at or 202-279-0274.



Gayle Manchin, Chair · Tony Perkins, Vice Chair · Anurima Bhargava, Vice Chair
Gary Bauer
· James W. Carr · Frederick A. Davie

Nadine Maenza · Johnnie Moore · Nury Turkel

Erin D. Singshinsuk, Executive Director

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on threats to religious freedom abroad.