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Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression: A Human Rights Approach to Platform Content Regulation

[I]nternet remains history’s greatest tool for global access to information... [B]ut he public sees hate, abuse and disinformation in the content users generate. Governments see terrorist recruitment or discomfiting dissent and opposition. Civil society organizations see the outsourcing of public functions, like protection of freedom of expression, to unaccountable private actors. Despite taking steps to illuminate their rules and government interactions, the companies remain enigmatic regulators, establishing...“platform law” in which clarity, consistency, accountability and remedy are elusive... [R]eport the Special Rapporteur proposes a framework for the moderation of user-generated online content that puts human rights at the very centre...Companies should recognize that the authoritative global standard for ensuring freedom of expression on their platforms is human rights law, not the varying laws of States or their own private interests, and they should re-evaluate their content standards accordingly....The companies must embark on radically different approaches to transparency at all stages of their operations... Transparency requires greater engagement with digital rights organizations and other relevant sectors of civil society...[C]ompanies must open themselves up to public accountability. Effective and rights-respecting press councils worldwide provide a model for imposing minimum levels of consistency, transparency and accountability to commercial content moderation.