David Kaye Profile picture
Sep 7, 2018 14 tweets 7 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
a wonky thread about what it should mean for social media companies to be transparent. my last report to the @UNHumanRights Council discusses: freedex.org/a-human-rights… #transparency can be so vague as to be meaningless, so some [long] thoughts follow
let me just emphasize that i drew these principles from human rights law (& work of some great thinkers), not out of thin air. sure, that law applies to states, but companies also have responsibility not to interfere w/users' rights.
one aspect of transparency is clarity in the rules (community stds, guidelines, etc). they are broad and general, tho companies are trying to do better, it's true.
companies do report government requests for account actions (take-downs, suspensions, etc). see their Transparency Reports. they are really helpful, but mainly still in the aggregate, not v granular. check out the work of @rmack & rankingdigitalrights.org for more
when it comes to transparency regarding platform rules, there is so much work to be done. opacity generates distrust even if those inside the companies want to do the right thing, as many of them do.
so when i say 'radical transparency', i mean at least the following: first, rule-making transparency. how are the rules made? what standards apply? who is involved? read/follow @Klonick & @TarletonG & @ubiquity75 for incredibly rich background (on anything really).
second, transparency about account actions. have you ever protested a post and heard nothing in response? or suddenly lost access to your 'suspended' account? you know what i mean then.
third, transparency about how companies curate news feeds and search results. that means algorithmic transparency, as much as possible (& my next report to the #UNGA deals w #AI and freedom of expression).
fourth, decisional transparency - we need a kind of platform case law system so that we can understand what the companies are actually doing, creating a more level playing field for discussion and debate over account/content decisions.
transparency alone of course isn't enough to solve concerns about the big companies' power over public and private discourse. but it's critical for accountability & public debate.
one other thing. with all the talk of regulation in the air, i want to urge some caution (at least when it comes to content norms). content reg is often a tool to harm independent and nonconformist voices, if not in design then practice. we need smart reg, focused on disclosure.
before i conclude, if you care about this stuff, i really urge you to read the work of experts in the space of content moderation, free expression, etc. please start with links here: ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Free… i'd tag them all if i could
i also urge everyone - esp american policymakers - to learn a thing or two about human rights law. it's the only *global* vocabulary for free expression & privacy, & it should be the basis for policies for global companies.
ok now you don't have to go read an 11k word UN report. you're welcome. /end

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More from @davidakaye

Sep 12, 2018
three major developments over the past day demonstrate how #Europe seeks to shape the global #Internet. if you only focus on US reg, dominated by politics & not law, you’re missing a major part of the action.
first: yesterday the European Ct of Justice held hearings on #France’s push to globalize the right to be forgotten politico.eu/article/google…
read @daphnehk on the implications: nytimes.com/2018/09/10/opi…
Read 9 tweets
Aug 9, 2018
lots of sharp observations/reporting in this @karaswisher piece, but i have a few quick reactions —> Rules Won’t Save Twitter. Values Will. nyti.ms/2OSnmpT?smid=n…
twitter isn’t the govt, she says, just a private company that can apply whatever rules it wants. it should just apply some values to clean it up.
where do those values come from? how does it build up “a code that requires making hard choices”? whose values shd be reflected? she doesn’t say.
Read 11 tweets
Jun 19, 2018
let me tell you about this 'cesspool of political bias' amidst the U.S. new international #snowflake policy of withdrawal from the Human Rights Council
are some of its members egregious human rights abusers? of course. it's comprised of member states of the UN, and it could do much better. until today it included the US, which separates children from parents at the border in violation of international law.
and yes, the Council condemns #Israel's behavior repeatedly, with multiple resolutions, upsetting many who may perceive this as disproportionate attention ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HR…
Read 16 tweets

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