Week in Review: 11 May 2018

by Dan Bateyko

Digital rights organizations release Santa Clara Principles for content moderation

This week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and partner organizations released the “Santa Clara Principles,” a ruleset for social media companies to follow for transparency and accountability in content removal. The principles recommend that companies regularly publish the number of posts and accounts they take down, provide detailed notice to users that their content has been removed, and offer a meaningful means of appeal for content removal.

Some social media companies have already taken steps to document content takedowns in quarterly and annual reports, such as Facebook’s Transparency Report and Twitter’s biannual Transparency Report. Most recently, YouTube released a report on how its team of moderators enforce community guidelines. However in an EFF press release, Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo says that “we hope to see the companies embrace the Santa Clara Principles and move the bar on transparency and accountability even higher.” The full text of the Principles can be found here.

SMEX to monitor MENA Internet shutdowns during national exams

Social Media Exchange (SMEX), a media advocacy organization, will monitor Internet shutdowns during upcoming national exams in Algeria, Iraq, Mauritania, and Syria. The monitoring initiative is part of a larger Access Now #KeepItOn coalition effort to document the disadvantages of Internet shutdowns.

In an announcement post, SMEX writes how network disruptions are justified as a method to curb cheating on exams: “Since 2015, Syria and Iraq have regularly shut down the internet during end-of-the-year brevet and baccalaureate exams, Algeria followed suit in 2016, and Mauritania joined the club last year. These states justify exam-period shutdowns as a method to prevent cheating, and while it may work in some cases, exam questions still get leaked and offline cheating methods continue to be widespread.”

To read more about the #KeepitOn coalition, visit Access Now’s campaign page.

Activists report telecom disruptions during Russian protests

Activists claim that Russian telecom operators intentionally disrupted network services during protests against Vladimir Putin’s inauguration, according to a Global Voices RuNet Echo article.

A reporter for the online outlet Mediazona stated that they were personally affected by a mobile Internet shutdown and wrote to a telecom provider concerning the disruptions. The representative confirmed that the company was conducting maintenance work during the time of the protest. Activists also claim that another telecom, Beeline, delisted client phone numbers on police orders—a claim that Beeline denies. Users on other telecoms similarly report Internet outages during the protests.