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Commentary: Regulation of social media companies heightens global risk of excessive censorship

Author: Tara Wadhwa & Gabriel Ng, NYU Stern Center for Business & Human Rights, on Wired (USA), Published on: 27 March 2018

"Tech Companies Policing the Web will do More Harm Than Good", 31 Jul 2017

… A recent law passed in Germany will require social media companies…to remove illegal, racist, or slanderous content within 24 hours after it's flagged by a user, or face fines as large as $57 million…[A] recent Canadian court ruling ordered content that violated Canadian law should be deleted globally rather than just for Canadian users…

…Legislation or regulations requiring companies to remove content pose a range of risks, including potentially legitimizing repressive measures from authoritarian regimes…[I]mposing hefty financial penalties on internet platforms…all but ensures that certain companies will err on the side of excessive censorship, unfairly limiting the right to free speech…

…Instead of government intervention, civil society should recognize and build upon the efforts of platforms that address these issues, while also pressing companies to step up to do even more. Recent affirmative examples of company-led initiatives include Facebook’s hiring of 3,000 more content reviewers to address violent posts on its site and Google’s development of machine-learning systems to identify and remove hate speech and extremist content. YouTube also has implemented a policy whereby violent content that does not meet the company’s community guidelines for removal will be stripped of engagement tools…

Read the full post here

Related companies: Alphabet Facebook Google (part of Alphabet) YouTube (part of Alphabet)