Civil liberties groups urge social media platforms to better protect the free flow of information in crisis areas
SAN FRANCISCO – Whether in Ukraine or other crisis zones around the world, social media platforms have a duty to ensure that people have access to the free flow of vital information, according to a statement released today. today by 31 international human rights and civil society organizations. civil liberties organizations, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
“As a global community of civil society actors, we do not demand a one-size-fits-all approach to responding to human rights crises,” the groups said in the statement. “What we are asking platforms to do is invest more time and effort in improving their operations now, not when the ongoing violence is in the media spotlight and it is often already too late to act.”
It has become increasingly clear that the platforms have followed the same script in Ukraine as elsewhere: superficial or extractive relationships with civil society; insufficient local language support and lack of understanding of the context; and responsiveness to media pressure, not civil society pressure or human rights concerns. The 2022 Russian invasion was a further escalation of events that began in 2014, and the platforms should have been better prepared.
The statement issued on Wednesday calls on platforms to be better prepared for the future and urges them to address structural inequalities in the way they deal with different countries, markets and regions. Specifically, the statement calls on platforms to provide:
- Actual Human Rights Due Diligence: Platforms should engage in ongoing and meaningful human rights due diligence globally, prioritizing immediate review of their operations in countries and regions whose people are at risk of harm. massacres or serious violations of human rights.
- Fair investment:The platform’s investments in politics, security and integrity should be determined by the level of risk they pose to human rights, not just the commercial value of a particular country or if located in jurisdictions with enforceable regulatory powers.
- Significant commitment: Platforms must build meaningful relationships with civil society around the world that are not based on extracting information to improve products, but also provide meaningful opportunities for civil society to shape the tools and policies of platforms.
- Linguistic equity in content moderation: Platforms must hire a sufficient number of content moderators and staff for each language in which they provide services. They must fully translate all their policies into all the languages in which they operate.
- Increased transparency: Platforms should increase transparency and accountability in their content moderation practices. The Santa Clara Principles, which were updated and elaborated in 2021, provide concrete guidance for doing this.
- Clarity on so-called “Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content” (TVEC): Platforms should be fully transparent regarding content guidelines or rules related to the classification and moderation of “terrorism” and “extremism”, including how they define TVEC, exceptions to these rules and how the company determines when to make such exceptions. Platforms should push back against attempts by governments to use the TVEC label to silence dissent and independent reporting, and should be clear about how their TVEC policies relate to other policies such as incitement to violence .
- Multi-stakeholder debriefings: When platforms take extraordinary measures or are forced to engage in “rapid response” to emergencies, they should also take stock afterwards to assess and share what they have learned.
“With this statement, we wanted to express our solidarity with Ukrainian civil society while pushing social media platforms to do better around the world,” said Dia Kayyali, Associate Director of Advocacy for Mnemonic. “Ukraine, Yemen, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Syria, Sudan – the list of places where platforms need to learn from their failures and be ready to invest in human rights in the future is far too long. After many years of pressure from global civil society, including dozens of open statements from affected communities, there is no longer any excuse for not being prepared. We look forward to working with platforms to implement our demands. »
“We stand with Ukrainians and all people in crisis areas who depend on the free flow of information to survive,” said Jillian C. York, EFF Director for International Freedom of Expression. . “Social media platforms must recognize that too often their services are misused to spread misinformation and obscure desperately needed factual information, including evidence of war crimes and other gross human rights violations. male. These companies must take concrete steps to ensure that their policies are enforced impartially and transparently and that their efforts continue after the media spotlight immediately shifts.
Maksym Dvorovyi, legal counsel for the Digital Security Lab Ukraine, said an inconsistent approach to content moderation has been a problem since Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014.
“Over the years, Ukrainian users have suffered from the coordinated communication of social media posts by Russians and the unwillingness of social media platforms to tackle this issue,” he said. “As part of a non-transparent approach of appointing moderators to handle a certain type of reported comments, misperceptions have emerged and spread in Ukrainian society regarding the review of Ukrainian content by Russian-speaking moderators (missing knowledge of the Ukrainian language and background), or by the “Moscow offices” of intermediaries (often non-existent). Thus, at least in the minds of Ukrainian users, the platforms were biased when dealing with Ukrainian cases under guidance from their predominantly Russian staff.”
Read the full statement here: https://www.eff.org/document/letter-social-media-platforms-crisis-zones
Signatories to the statement include:
- Access now
- Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
- Australian Muslim Rights Network (AMAN)
- Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT)
- Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties)
- Digital Derechos
- Digital Action
- Digital Africa Research Lab
- Ukraine Digital Security Lab
- Digital Rights Foundation
- Doublethink Laboratory
- Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF)
- European Alliance for the Rights of Sex Workers (ESWA)
- fight for the future
- Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
- Global project against hate and extremism
- Global Voices Advox
- INSM Network for Digital Rights in Iraq
- Jordan Open Source Association
- Mian Group
- New America Open Technology Institute
- Ranking of digital rights
- Social Media Exchange (SMEX)
- The Dangerous Speech Project
- Woodhull Freedom Foundation
- Zašto ne (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
- 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media