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Guidance Note on Content Moderation

Strasbourg 20 September 2021
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Guidance Note on Content Moderation

A Guidance Note on Content Moderation was adopted by CDMSI at its 19th plenary meeting on 19-21 May 2021 and is available online for public authorities, media and private companies. The Note was elaborated by CDMSI’s Expert Committee of Experts on Freedom of Expression and Digital Technologies (MSI-DIG).

The internet has given us fantastic new opportunities to speak, to be heard and to organise. It has created a wealth of new opportunities for the human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought and religion and others. However, the internet also creates opportunities for illegal or potentially damaging content or behaviour to be spread. Online services (such as social media platforms, where people post messages, articles, pictures, and so on), have a the possibility of deleting, demoting or otherwise discouraging the spread of illegal or unwelcome content, possibility that is referred to as “content moderation”.

The purpose of this Guidance note is to provide practical guidance to member States of the Council of Europe, taking into account existing good practices, for policy development, regulation and use of content moderation in the online environment in line with their human rights obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. The Guidance note is also addressed to internet intermediaries who have human rights responsibilities of their own. It identifies in particular and elaborates on a number of key principles that should guide a human rights-based approach to content moderation, such as human rights by default, transparency, clear legal and operational framework, proportionality, safeguards against over-compliance and discrimination, independent review mechanisms.