Democratising Online Content Moderation: A Constitutional Framework

Computer Law and Security Review, 2019 Forthcoming

28 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2019

See all articles by Giovanni De Gregorio

Giovanni De Gregorio

Católica Global School of Law, Lisbon

Date Written: 2019


Freedom of expression is one of the cornerstones on which democracy is based. This non-exhaustive statement firmly clashes with the troubling evolution of the algorithmic society where artificial intelligence technologies govern the flow of information online according to opaque technical standards established by social media platforms. These actors are usually neither accountable nor responsible for contents uploaded or generated by the users. Nevertheless, online content moderation affects users’ fundamental rights and democratic values, especially since online platforms autonomously set standards for content removal on a global scale. Despite their crucial role in governing the flow of information online, social media platforms are not required to ensure transparency and explanation of their decision-making processes. Within this framework, this work aims to show how the liberal paradigm of protection of the right to free speech is no longer enough to protect democratic values in the digital environment, since the flow of information is actively organised by business interests, driven by profit-maximisation rather than democracy, transparency or accountability. Although the role of free speech is still paramount, it is necessary to enhance the positive dimension of this fundamental right by establishing new users’ rights in online content moderation based on transparency and accountability of online platforms.

Keywords: Democracy; Online Platforms; Content Moderation; Freedom of Expression; Accountability; Transparency; Constitutionalism

Suggested Citation

De Gregorio, Giovanni, Democratising Online Content Moderation: A Constitutional Framework (2019). Computer Law and Security Review, 2019 Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Giovanni De Gregorio (Contact Author)

Católica Global School of Law, Lisbon ( email )


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