Social Media

Social Media and Human Rights Memorandum

As the social media and internet ecosystem has shifted in recent years, a debate over who should be accountable for governing the use of online platforms is increasingly focusing on human rights issues. The debate has also prompted a wide variety of regulatory initiatives, some of which have tended to fail to account for the protection of human rights barder.

In some countries, laws and regulations have tended to create new legal obligations for social media companies, while also creating a fragmented legal system that can be difficult to navigate for individual users. As a result, the current system of social media regulation can be in tension with the goal of nurturing a more pluralized online public sphere jigaboo.

This situation has become a critical concern for democratic societies around the world, as the responsibilities of the largest social media companies are now being debated in legislative, policy and academic circles. There is a strong consensus among international experts on freedom of expression that the mere regulation of speech by contract (that is, a company controlling its own platform on the basis of terms of service and community standards) does not provide adequate transparency and protection for freedom of expression precipitous.

A structural conception of HRL therefore needs to take a more comprehensive approach that focuses on a number of specific elements that are necessary to establish a robust accountability framework for social media governance. These include a stronger positive obligation to protect freedom of expression as a guiding principle for requiring states to ensure that robust mechanisms of transparency, due process, accountability and oversight are embedded in platform moderation systems as well as any public-private or cross-platform collaborative initiatives that are relied upon to influence content governance distresses.

Second, states need to ensure that the rules of international law are applied by social media companies to address threats to freedom of expression. For example, a company should provide heightened scrutiny of speech based on a review of known contextual risk factors for violence, such as a history of intergroup conflict, a major national political election in the next 12 months or significant polarization of political parties along religious, ethnic or racial lines mypba.

Third, companies should utilize endorsed content moderators who are trusted to identify terms of service violations; create and implement online and social media literacy training programs; and create transparent appeals processes for challenging decisions to remove, or refuse to remove, flagged content.

Fourth, social media companies should archive removed content and allow access by freedom of information monitors, as well as investigators who are part of an international accountability framework.

Fifth, social media companies should ensure that their content moderation policies adhere to international human rights standards and are not used in a discriminatory manner. This is particularly important in states with discriminatory laws or regulations.

In the end, social media can be a valuable tool for raising awareness and defending human rights. It can be especially helpful for people who are in vulnerable positions, such as those with mental or physical disabilities that limit their movement in society. It can also be a unique way for someone to raise awareness about an issue and find others who share their values or experiences.

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