San Francisco—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a coalition of civil society organizations and academics today released the second edition of the Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability In Content Moderation, adding standards directed at government and state actors to beef up due process and expanding guidelines for reporting on and notifying users about takedowns.
The Santa Clara Principles outline standards related to transparency, due process, cultural competence, and respect for human rights that internet platforms should meet in order to provide meaningful, public-facing transparency around their moderation of all user-generated content, paid or unpaid.
In May 2018, a small coalition of advocates and individuals released the original Santa Clara Principles in response to growing concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability by internet platforms around how they create and enforce content moderation policies. This first version of the Principles outlined minimum standards that internet platforms must meet to provide adequate transparency and accountability about their efforts to moderate user-generated content or accounts that violate their rules.
Since the release of the initial Principles, many internet platforms have endorsed and committed to adhering to the Principles, including Apple, Facebook, Google, and Twitter. However, the original Principles were created by a small number of organizations and individuals based primarily in the United States. Following the 2018 launch, many allies—particularly our colleagues from countries outside the United States and Western Europe—raised legitimate concerns and suggestions for their revision.
Stakeholders from around the world emphasized that platforms invest more resources in providing transparency and due process to users in certain communities and markets, creating fundamental inequities. Further, over the past several years, platforms have expanded their content moderation tactics to include interventions implemented by algorithmic tools, such as downranking. These companies have not provided sufficient transparency around how these tools are developed and used, and what impact they have on user speech and access to information.
Because of these concerns, the Santa Clara Principles coalition initiated an open call for comments from a broad range of global stakeholders, with the goal of eventually expanding the Principles. Using the feedback received through this open call, as well as through a series of open consultations and workshops, the coalition drafted the second iteration of the Santa Clara Principles.
“Allies from more than 10 countries made 40 sets of recommendations that were used to revise the Santa Clara Principles,” said EFF Director for International Freedom of Expression Jillian York. “We urge technology companies to adopt these revised guidelines and make a greater commitment to users across the globe to be transparent, fair, and consistent in moderating their online speech.”
For more about the Santa Clara Principles: