In this brief, ARTICLE 19 seeks to contribute to discussions on greater regulation of social media platforms, including calls for such platforms to be considered publishers. We do so by exploring a possible model for the independent and effective self regulation of social media platforms.
ARTICLE 19 recognises that dominant social media companies hold considerable power over the flow of information and ideas online, given the vast quantities of content published on their platforms. The way in which social media companies have dealt with content issues on their platforms, especially around ‘hate speech’, has been of particular concern to many stakeholders. Under international standards on freedom of expression, however, it is a fairly complex task to decide whether a specific message can be identified as unlawful ‘hate speech’, and, as such, whether it should or could legitimately be prohibited. More generally, any restriction on freedom of expression, whatever the objective it seeks to achieve, necessarily raises a series of legal questions.