(Lunch Talk) Disinformation, Defamation, and Islamic Values


Tuesday, March 10, 2020, 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Austin Hall, Room 102

Zahra Takhshid, Reginald F. Lewis Fellow, Harvard Law School

This talk is based on an article that aims to contribute to the legal scholarship on online disinformation and defamation by focusing on false and defamatory speech in Islam. With over 1.5 billion Muslims around the world, eighty percent of which live in Muslim majority countries, there is little scholarship in English on speech etiquette and the sanctity of the individual’s reputation in Islam. The Islamic teachings in this area are not just theological commands. As this article notes, many have been enacted into laws in some of the Muslim majority countries, while others are unofficially enforced as social norms. This study is unique, as it illustrates that the foundations of the laws in these countries depart from certain immunities for false and defamatory speech as protected by the contemporary First Amendment free speech doctrine and defamation case law in the U.S., which form the backbone of some current online content moderation policies. Understanding such legal, religious, and cultural differences, this article stipulates, is crucial in designing any form of effective online content moderation for global products that feed on speech.

Space is limited. Please RSVP to pil@law.harvard.edu. Mediterranean lunch will be served.