Commentary: "Who You Gonna Call? Troll Busters?"

Author: Salil Tripathi, Institute for Human Rights and Business, Published on: 3 August 2016

[Milo Yiannopoulos] took on Leslie Jones, the actor in the major Hollywood summer release, Ghostbusters. Jones is an African-American woman, and not only did Yiannopoulos heap scorn on her, but his vitriol encouraged his rabid followers to insult Jones with racist, misogynist abuse, which led to Jones quitting Twitter. Within a day, Twitter acted and banned Yiannopoulos permanently from Twitter...The private sector has been seen as a countervailing power that would champion freedom of expression, and often does...But the private sector’s relationship with human rights is complicated...[H]ow do they apply their policies or community standards in a consistent, uniform way?...Would Twitter act in a similar way with similar swiftness if the complainant wasn’t a movie star like Jones, but an African woman without Jones’s fame?...Companies apply their standards using algorithms or through monitoring, and mistakes occur often...How does a company then decide which communication to allow and which to prevent? Unfortunately, it is not a straightforward or transparent process...[C]ompanies need to develop their own capability to assess situations better. They need to undertake risk and impact assessments that constantly and proactively reach out to human rights lawyers, free speech experts, academics, and civil liberties groups to make informed decisions that are applied fairly, consistently, without bias, and not in response to a temporary Internet uproar, or when a celebrity complains. Governments, at the same time, should ensure that those Internet users who are expressing their views and not inciting violence have the full freedom to do so...[Refers to Apple, Blackberry, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter]

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Related companies: Alphabet Apple Facebook Google (part of Alphabet) Microsoft Twitter