We are excited to announce that Onlinecensorship.org, a joint project of EFF and Visualizing Impact, is now available in Spanish. Onlinecensorship.org seeks to expose how social media sites moderate user-generated content. By launching the platform in the second-most widely spoken language in the world, we hope to reach several million more individuals who've experienced censorship on social media. Now, more users than ever can report on content takedowns from Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and YouTube and use Onlinecensorship.org as a resource to appeal unfair takedowns.
Since its launch in November 2015, Onlinecensorship.org released its first findings report based on data gathered from user reports received through the platform. The report highlighted the who, what, and why of content takedowns on social media sites. By cataloging and analyzing aggregated cases of social media censorship, Onlinecensorship.org unveils trends in content removals, provides insight into the types of content being taken down, and learns how these takedowns impact different communities of users.
Controversies over content takedowns seem to bubble up every few weeks, with users complaining about censorship of political speech, nudity, LGBT content, and many other subjects. The passionate debate about these takedowns reveals a larger issue: social media sites have an enormous impact on the public sphere, but are ultimately privately owned companies. Each corporation has their own rules and systems of governance that control users’ content, while providing little transparency about how these decisions are made.
The idea for Onlinecensorship.org was born in 2011, when Facebook took down a link posted by popular band Coldplay. The link, deemed “abusive” by the social network, was to a song of protest for Palestinian freedom, an issue where calls of manipulation and censorship by the mainstream media are frequent. You can read how the story unfolds here.
If social media companies control both the medium and the message—without oversight or transparency—they take the leap from a being a ‘walled garden’ to a selectively clear-cut forest. Onlinecensorship.org—now in two languages—can get us closer to untangling the important issues at stake.