International: The Santa Clara Principles and the push for transparency

International: The Santa Clara Principles and the push for transparency - Transparency

ARTICLE 19 and other civil society organisations are calling for greater transparency to protect democracies at a time when the Internet and big tech are under scrutiny for their failures to adequately protect democratic values.

Today, the coalition launches the revised Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability In Content Moderation, which includes input from a wider range of organisations from a greater number of countries around the world. 

The Principles call for Internet platforms to be held accountable and for content moderation of all user-generated content, paid or unpaid, to uphold human rights. 

Greater diversity to broaden the Principles

In May 2018, a small coalition of advocates and individuals released the original Santa Clara Principles in response to growing concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability from Internet platforms regarding how they create and enforce their content moderation policies. This first version of the Principles outlined minimum standards: Internet platforms must provide adequate transparency and accountability about their efforts to moderate user-generated content or accounts that violate their rules.

Since the release of the initial Principles, numerous Internet platforms have endorsed and committed to adhering to the Principles, including Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter. However, the original Principles were created by a small number of organisations and individuals, and allies — particularly from Global South countries outside North America and Western Europe — raised legitimate concerns and suggestions for their revision. Over the past several years, platforms have expanded their content moderation strategies to include algorithmic tools. These companies have not provided sufficient transparency around how these tools are developed and used and what impact they have on speech and access to information.

Because of these concerns, the Santa Clara Principles coalition initiated an open call for comments from a broad range of global stakeholders, with the goal of eventually expanding the Principles. Following feedback through this open call, as well as through a series of open consultations and workshops, the coalition drafted the second iteration of the Santa Clara Principles.

The new Principles include four key revisions:

  • The revised version of the Principles is divided into Foundational Principles, overarching values that guide all content moderation, and the Operational Principles (adapted from the Numbers, Notice, and Appeal Principles from the original), which set out specific practices for companies.
  • The revised Principles put forward and reiterate standards to provide guidance and benchmarks for companies of all sizes, resources, maturity and scope.
  • The revised Principles also appeal directly to governments and other state actors, which themselves are often obstacles to meaningful transparency and due process.
  • The revised operational Principles have also been expanded.

Find out more about the Santa Clara Principles


Eastern Africa: Call for more transparency in Facebook content moderation


For more information, contact

Posted In