Tackling the “Fake” Without Harming the “News”: A Paper Series on Regulatory Responses to Misinformation (Spring 2021)

Around the world, an increasing number of governments are responding to the threat posed by misinformation by passing repressive criminal content restrictions prohibiting the spread of "fake news". But while international human rights standards are clear regarding the problems associated with broad criminal restrictions prohibiting the spread of misinformation, defining an appropriate regulatory response is more challenging. If criminal content restrictions are not an acceptable answer, then what should governments and other regulatory authorities do to combat the very real harms of misinformation? 

This paper series provides a set of innovative proposals for regulatory responses to misinformation which do not revert to the use of criminal sanctions targeting false speech. The authors were drawn from an open call for proposals, and represent a diversity of perspectives, reflecting the global and multifaceted nature of the misinformation challenge. Although each of the papers was written with a particular national context in mind, all were chosen due in part for their potential scalability across different jurisdictions. While none of these proposals are a panacea, they are designed to be complementary, and to target different aspects of the misinformation ecosystem. Together, the papers provide a menu of alternative policy proposals for regulators and public officials seeking new avenues to combat the harm of misinformation.

Click here to read the full paper series.

Moderate Globally, Impact Locally: A Series on the Global Impacts of Content Moderation (Fall 2020)

This series of articles on the impacts of content moderation was commissioned from a broad selection of global academics, journalists, and civil society activists. The authors were given a relatively free hand to prioritize the issues that they saw as of primary importance, and to frame the challenges according to their own perspective. In addition to hosting the articles on our own website, they were cross-posted to several outlets, including TechDirt, Global Voices, Lawfare, Slate, and Protego Press:

  1. Michael Karanicolas - Moderate Globally, Impact Locally. Introducing a project to shed light on the global impacts of content moderation.
  2. Sergei Hovyadinov - Better Transparency Reporting Can Shed Light on Russian Internet Censorship. Transparency reporting is a critical avenue to tracking content controls, especially in repressive countries.
  3. Aye Min Thant - Digital technology as accelerant: Growth and Genocide in Myanmar. Facebook's role in Myanmar's digital revolution, and in the chaos that followed.
  4. Tomiwa Ilori - Content Moderation Is Particularly Hard in African Countries. Across Africa social media has helped to rock the status quo, and to reinforce it.
  5. Agustina Del Campo - Social media in Latin America, Caught between a rock and a hard place. For users in Latin America, merely understanding how the rules apply to them can be a challenge.
  6. Akriti Gaur - Tackling Social Media’s Hate Speech Problem in India. Platforms in India have been a vehicle for hate, they need to get serious about robust engagement and accountability.
  7. Andrés Calderón - Content Moderation in Social Media in Latin America: A promise to consumers. The lack of legal accountability has led social media users across Latin America to seek alternative solutions.
  8. Dorothy Mukasa - Internet Content Moderation in Uganda – A Taxing Situation. Authorities in Uganda view social media as a threat, the lack of public accountability reinforces this perception.
  9. Farieha Aziz - An internet with borders: A perspective from Pakistan. Pakistan's social media users are caught between government overreach and corporate compliance.
  10. Michael Karanicolas - The Countries Where Democracy Is Most Fragile Are Test Subjects for Platforms’ Content Moderation Policies. The consequences of both undermoderation and overmoderation can be dire. So how can platforms moderate content without causing damage?

New Controversies in Intermediary Liability Law – An Essay Collection (June 2019)

In Spring 2019, WIII produced and edited a collection of short, accessible essays on key issues in intermediary liability, to serve as a resource for academics, policymakers, and the general public. These essays were published on Balkinization and on the ISP website. The short essay format allowed authors to write on current, fast-moving issues. The essay collection included the following authors and topics:

  1. Annemarie Bridy, “Faith in Filters and the Fate of Safe Harbors”
  2. Jacob Rogers, “It’s Not About What You Know: An Overview of Hyperlink Law’s Troubles”
  3. Aleksandra Kuczerawy, “To Monitor or Not to Monitor? The Uncertain Future of Article 15 of the E-Commerce Directive”
  4. Anupam Chander, “A Facebook Supreme Court?”
  5. Eric Goldman, “Want to Kill facebook and Google? Preserving Sectio 230 Is Your Best Bet”
  6. Amélie Heldt, “Facebook and the EU Elections: Overzealous or Misinformed?”
  7. Martin Husovec, “Why Is There No Due Process Online?”
  8. Michael Karanicolas, “Privatizing Censorship”
  9. Daphne Keller, “Build Your Own Intermediary Liability Law: A Kit ofr Policy Wonks of all Ages”
  10. Tiffany Li, “Intermediary Liability: The Next Frontiers”

“Intermediary Liability and Private Speech Regulation: A Transatlantic Dialogue” Workshop Report (March 2019)

In September 2018, WIII hosted “Intermediary Liability and Private Speech Regulation: A Transatlantic Dialogue.” This workshop, organized with support from Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society, convened leading scholars from the United States and European Union to debate current interpretations of laws and to understand intermediary and government responsibilities for the future of online speech. Participating experts included Jack Balkin, Owen Bennett, Annemarie Bridy, Niva Elkin-Karen, Robert Hamilton, Martin Husovec, Joris van Hoboken, Daphne Keller, Aleksandra Kuczerawy, Tiffany Li, Emma Llanso, and Karmen Turk.

WIII subsequently published a report presenting findings, insights, and conclusions from the workshop discussions. The report is available on the ISP website.

“Beyond Intermediary Liability: The Future of Information Platforms” Workshop Report (February 2018)

Based on conversations from a workshop hosted by WIII, this free, publicly available report details the most critical issues necessary for understanding the role of information platforms, such as Facebook and Google, in law and society today. The report highlights insights and questions raised by experts during the event, providing an insider’s view of the top issues that influential thinkers on intermediary liability are considering in law, policy, and ethics. The report is publicly available.