Human Rights and Social Media Platforms: The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights in Regards to Privacy Infringements Involving Photo-posting
The Australian Journal of Human Rights (2020) 26(1) 124-141
16 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2021
Date Written: May 28, 2020
As a sub-set of wider debates on societal implications of information and communication technologies (ICT), concern with the human rights implications of social media is on the rise. We address that issue in regard to photo posting and privacy, looking at the responsibility of social media providers to avoid human rights infringements caused by their users. Adopted by the United Nations, the current soft-law regime on business and human rights (BHR) that is built around the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) applies to all companies in all countries, regardless of form, size, business model or other characteristics. The global applicability regardless of national jurisdictions of actors or victims provides the corporate responsibility to respect human rights established by the BHR regime with important potential for preventing and addressing privacy infringements related to social media platforms. So far, the literature has paid limited attention to this. We contribute to remedying that knowledge gap through a focus on human rights risk-based due diligence in regard to social media enabling posting of photos of individuals. We apply the BHR typology of forms through which a business enterprise can be involved in harmful human rights impacts by causing, contributing to or being directly linked through business relationships, and identify situations in which social media providers can be involved in privacy infringements in this context. We identify the implications with regard to infringements caused by users when the social media provider can be seen to contribute or be directly linked, as well as those directly caused by the social media provider. We discuss appropriate responses and make recommendations for future research.
Keywords: The corporate responsibility to respect human rights, Global Network Initiative (GNI) Principles, human rights due diligence. posting re-posting or deleting photos, information and communication technologies (ICT), privacy, social media
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation