In November 2015, the EDRi member Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), along with Beirut-based social justice design firm Visualizing Impact, launched OnlineCensorship.org to document content takedowns on social media sites. Specifically, the project focuses on takedowns related to companies’ Terms of Service, seeking to create transparency around a type of censorship that is often obscured.
New 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.
At OnlineCensorship.org, users are encouraged to report content takedowns from Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and YouTube. By collecting these reports, the platform seeks to unveil trends in content removals across topic and region, provide insight into the types of content being removed, and learn how these takedowns impact different user communities.
In addition to collecting reports, OnlineCensorship.org contains resources for users seeking to learn more about the issue, or to learn how they can get their own content restored. The project will continue to produce original analysis pieces based on media reports and on the reports received by the site.
OnlineCensorship.org: Submit a report
OnlineCensorship.org: News and analysis
OnlineCensorship.org: How to appeal a company’s takedown
(Contribution by Jillian York, EDRi member EFF, International)