New Report from ONI: "Policing Content in the Quasi-Public Sphere"

The OpenNet Initiative is proud to announce the release of a paper on content regulation and account deactivations across five popular social media platforms, titled "Policing Content in the Quasi-Public Sphere."

The paper, authored by ONI project coordinator Jillian York, explores various mechanisms of content control on privately owned platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and Blogger:

As private companies increasingly take on roles in the public sphere, the rules users must follow become increasingly complex. In some cases this can be positive, for example, when a user in a repressive society utilizes a platform hosted by a company abroad that is potentially bound to more liberal, Western laws than those to which he is subject in his home country. Such platforms may also allow a user to take advantage of anonymous or pseudonymous speech, offering him a place to discuss taboo topics.

At the same time, companies set their own standards, which often means navigating tricky terrain; companies want to keep users happy but must also operate within a viable business model, all the while working to keep their services available in as many countries as possible by avoiding government censorship. Online service providers have incentive not to host content that might provoke a DDoS attack or raise costly legal issues. Negotiating this terrain often means compromising on one or more of these areas, sometimes at the expense of users.

The full paper is available online: Policing Content in the Quasi-Public Sphere.