Members of the Transatlantic High Level Working Group on Content Moderation Online and Freedom of Expression (TWG) held their third and final session, as guests of the Rockefeller Foundation Center at Bellagio, Italy, from November 12-16, 2019. The group is dedicated to reducing hate speech, violent extremism, and viral deception online while protecting freedom of speech.
At Bellagio, the members explored three cross-cutting areas related to online content moderation in Europe and North America that had been identified during previous convenings at Ditchley Park, UK, and Santa Monica, California: transparency and accountability; artificial intelligence and content moderation; and dispute resolution mechanisms, including social media councils and e-courts. A co-chairs report and collection of briefing papers that are being revised following the Bellagio discussions will be published in January 2020, followed later by a final report summarizing the group’s findings and recommendations.
The TWG is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) in partnership with the Institute for Information Law (IViR) at the University of Amsterdam and the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands. It is also supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The group previously published two sets of working papers on disinformation, content moderation and related issues: ‘Disinformation ABC’ and Other Strategies to Address Malevolent Speech Online and How Attempts to Moderate Content Online have Fallen Short. More information about the members of the Transatlantic High Level Working Group can be found here.
The group is co-chaired by Susan Ness, an APPC distinguished fellow and former member of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, and Marietje Schaake, former member of European Parliament from the Netherlands. Schaake succeeds former co-chair Nico van Eijk, who resigned following his appointment as chairman of CTIVD, the Dutch Review Committee on the Intelligence and Security Services.
Meeting with policy makers on content moderation issues
TWG members have highlighted the group’s work at events on both sides of the Atlantic:
- Following the Bellagio meeting, a delegation of TWG members briefed the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) in Vienna, Austria. Harlem Désir, a TWG member and the OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media, organized the briefing. The delegation also met with the OSCE Ambassadors from the United States and the Netherlands.
- Earlier in November, Heidi Tworek testified before the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and “Fake News” in Dublin, Ireland, and other witnesses cited TWG papers during the hearing.
- Several members participated in the Paris Peace Forum, an annual gathering highlighting civil society initiatives designed to enhance peace and security.
- In October, TWG co-chair Ness spoke at a Policy Dialogue on Disinformation and Democracy organized by the Club de Madrid, a global policy group that includes former presidents and prime ministers.
- Several members of the TWG spoke at an Federal Election Commission (FEC) Symposium, “Digital Disinformation and the Threat to Democracy: Information Integrity in the 2020 Elections,” organized by FEC Chair Ellen Weintraub.
- In June, Ness was featured on a panel discussing regulation of platforms at the annual meeting of BEREC, the association of European regulators in Riga, Latvia. TWG member and former Ambassador Eileen Donahoe organized a panel on the impact of deep fakes on democracy at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit.
Photos courtesy of Controluce Produzioni Video.