Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Has your blog been blocked? Is your platform provider violating its own Terms of Use?

See all posts about Yahoo and free speech.

Account Deactivation and Content Removal
Guiding Principles and Practices for Companies and Users
September 20, 2011
by Erica Newland,
Caroline Nolan,
Cynthia Wong,
Jillian York
Center for Democracy & Technology,
the Berkman Center

This report...recommends principles, strategies, and tools that companies and users alike can adopt.

From the activist who communicates with her network via her Facebook account, the user who posts documentary-style videos to YouTube or the citizen journalist who raises awareness with photos uploaded to Flickr, platforms that host user-generated content are increasingly used by a range of civic actors in innovative ways: to amplify voices, organize campaigns and coordinate disaster response, and advocate around issues of common concern.

However, while the online space may be perceived as a public commons, private entities play a role in shaping online activity, behavior, and content via Terms of Use (ToU), community guidelines, and other mechanisms of control. Platform providers often enforce such rules in response to potential threats, misuse, or ToU violations; users must observe them or risk losing their accounts, their contacts, or their ability to post content.

The clarity, transparency, and consistency of how such terms are established and implemented are important to all users, but for the growing number of human rights activists who depend on web 2.0 platforms for core elements of their work—and for whom removed content and deleted accounts can have severe consequences—the stakes are much higher...

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