In situations of armed conflicts and other crises, people use social media and messaging platforms to document human rights abuses or war crimes, access information, mobilize for action, and crowdsource humanitarian assistance. But governments and other actors leverage these same platforms to spread disinformation and hate speech, incite violence, and attack or surveil activists, journalists, and dissidents. In light of the increasingly important role social media companies play during crises, Access Now and partner organizations have co-authored a Declaration of principles for content and platform governance in times of crisis.
This Declaration, jointly developed by Access Now, ARTICLE 19, Mnemonic, the Center for Democracy and Technology, 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.
The Declaration is an effort to advance consistent and rights-respecting principles for companies to respond appropriately to crises and meet their obligations and responsibilities under international human rights law. Here is a summary of our key recommendations – read the Declaration in full here.