For many years, we have urged platforms to operate with more transparency—both to the public and to their users—and to ensure that the people who use their services have the ability to appeal wrongful content moderation decisions. As such, in conjunction with several other organizations and academic experts, we launched the Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation in February 2018 on the sidelines of an event on content moderation at Santa Clara University to make our demands clear to companies.
Later that same year, we worked with a group of more than one hundred organizations from dozens of countries to send a strong message to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, reminding him that much of the world’s ability to speak freely is in his hands, and urging him to ensure that Facebook offer appeals in every circumstance. That campaign was a success: Not only did Facebook respond to our letter, but they broadened the right to appeal to most cases, with a handful of exceptions.
From that action, we also began developing a loose coalition of other experts—NGOs, academics, and journalists—engaged broadly in the topic of platform governance, and have continued (with the help of our allies) to grow that group and broaden collaboration in the field.
In 2019, we succeeded in getting a dozen companies to endorse the Principles, with several companies furthering their compliance. One company, Reddit, went all the way in implementing the Principles into their platform.
In the meantime, we heard from our allies across the world that there was much more we could be doing, and so we collaborated with a number of our friends in the field to embark on an ambitious process of reviewing the Principles, which included an open call for submissions. We received more than forty sets of recommendations from more than ten countries, and have been reviewing them along with a small subset of our allies: Global Partners Digital, Open Technology Initiative, Article 19, Center for Democracy and Technology, Ranking Digital Rights, ACLU of Northern California, Witness, Brennan Center for Justice, Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales, and AccessNow.
We’re excited for what comes next: In the next few months, we will be working with those groups to finish reviewing the submissions, considering the recommendations, and publishing a report. And we look forward to sharing what we’ve heard—after all, it is the users around the world whose voices must be taken into account by platforms.
This article is part of our Year in Review series. Read other articles about the fight for digital rights in 2020.