In light of the increasingly important role social media companies play during crises, the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) has joined Access Now and other organizations in co-authoring a Declaration of principles for content and platform governance in times of crisis.
This Declaration, jointly developed by Access Now, ARTICLE 19, Mnemonic, CDT, JustPeace Labs, Digital Security Lab Ukraine, Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM), and the Myanmar Internet Project, sets out guidelines to help platforms protect human rights before, during, and after a crisis.
Social media companies have a responsibility to prevent and mitigate human rights harms stemming from use of their systems. Historically, however, they have responded inadequately and inconsistently, as demonstrated by the failed response to conflict situations in Ethiopia, Syria, Israel/Palestine, and Myanmar. These failures have disproportionately impacted marginalized communities and facilitated serious human rights abuses.
From the declaration:
For over a decade, large online platforms have played a significant role during armed conflicts and other crises. People use social media to report and document human rights abuses and war crimes, access information, mobilize for national and global action, and crowdsource humanitarian assistance and relief. State and non-state actors use these same platforms to spread disinformation and hate speech, incite violence, and attack or surveil activists, journalists, and dissidents.
Building on the Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation and the continuous efforts of civil society organizations and content moderation experts, this Declaration seeks to advance consistent and rights-respecting principles for platforms to adhere to in times of crises.