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Private Governance of Freedom of Expression on Social Media Platforms: EU content regulation through the lens of human rights standards



For years, social media platforms have been perceived as a democratic gain, facilitating freedom of expression, easy access to a variety of information, and new means of public participation. At the same time, social media have enabled the dissemination of illegal content and incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence, fuelling several content regulation initiatives. From the perspective of freedom of expression, this development embraces two challenges: first, private actors govern freedom of expression, without human rights safeguards; second, this privatised governance of human rights is encouraged and legitimised by a broad range of EU policy initiatives. Informed by an analysis of Danish Facebook users’ attitudes toward public debate on Facebook, we pose the question: How do social media companies such as Facebook balance various human rights considerations on their platforms, particularly in relation to freedom of expression? We analyse the abovementioned challenges through a human rights lens, which serves as the analytical framework for this article. Further, we suggest some strategies for moving forward, drawing on recent recommendations from the UN human rights system.

Frequenza di pubblicazione:
2 volte all'anno
Argomenti della rivista:
Social Sciences, Communication Science, Mass Communication, Public and Political Communication