Amid raging debate globally over social media regulation and controls,
microblogging platform Twitter on Tuesday cautioned that ‘Open Internet’
is more at risk now than ever before, and asserted the need for
coordinated, multi-stakeholder strategy to defend free, secure, and
global open internet.
In its position paper on ‘Protecting the Open Internet’, Twitter said
governments that seek to defend and expand online freedom cannot stand
by while other countries seek to silence critics, censor journalists,
and block access to information.
“The harassment of employees of service providers is a worrying norm,
accelerated by proposals to require local staff to be liable for
decisions rather than the corporate entity,” Twitter said.
The Open Internet is more at risk now than ever before, the paper concluded.
“…the targeting of independent journalists and activists highlights
the willingness of some states and actors to use digital policy and
manipulation to control political debate,” it said.
The paper went on to say that as the control of digital infrastructure
is increasingly a focus of geopolitical action, these issues cannot be
viewed in isolation.
“It is essential that there is a coordinated, multi-stakeholder strategy
to respond to these threats and defend the free, secure, and global Open
Internet,” it added.
The Open Internet is not something to be taken for granted; and in the
coming years, decisions will be made that define its future, Twitter
Twitter’s statement on the risk of Open Internet
“The risk that the rhetoric of policy and language of law will be
co-opted and weaponised by those seeking to usher in an age of
techno-nationalism is real,” Twitter said.
In the paper, Twitter outlined five guiding principles for regulation.
“The Open Internet is global, should be available to all, and should be
built on open standards and the protection of human rights,” Twitter said.
Trust, it noted, is essential and can be built with transparency,
procedural fairness, and privacy protections.
“Recommendation and ranking algorithms should be subject to human choice
and control,” Twitter said.
It contended that competition, choice and innovation are foundations of
the Open Internet and should be protected and expanded, “ensuring
incumbents are not entrenched by laws and regulations”.
“Content moderation is more than just leave up or take down. Regulation
should allow for a range of interventions, while setting clear
definitions for categories of content,” Twitter said.
The US-based company has faced flak in the past for various actions
taken on tweets and accounts of high-profile users and delay in
compliance with India’s new IT rules in the immediate aftermath of
notification of the said norms earlier this year.
Under the new rules, social media companies are required to take down
flagged content within 36 hours, and remove within 24 hours content that
is flagged for nudity, pornography etc. The new rules are designed to
prevent abuse and misuse of platforms, and offer users a robust forum
for grievance redressal.
“As has been noted by a range of voices, the combination of significant
administrative penalties for individual pieces of content and expected
removal in short time periods whether one hour or 24 hours creates a
significant corporate incentive to over-remove content, particularly in
edge cases,” Twitter said.
It more acutely impacts small companies and new services who have more
limited resources to litigate or pay fines, the social media platform said.
These frameworks must be underpinned with strong, independent processes
and free from political interference while allowing for civil society
participation, Twitter’s paper said.