Is Facebook Keeping up with International Standards on Freedom of Expression? A Time-Series Analysis 2005-2020

168 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2022

See all articles by Konstantinos Stylianou

Konstantinos Stylianou

University of Leeds - School of Law

Nicolo Zingales

Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV); Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC); Tilburg University - Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT); Stanford University - Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society

Stefania Di Stefano

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) - Department of International Law

Date Written: February 11, 2022

Abstract

Through an exhaustive tracking of the evolution of relevant documents, we assess the compatibility of Facebook’s content policies with applicable international standards on freedom of expression, not only regarding Facebook’s current policies (as of late 2020), but historically as well starting from Facebook’s founding. The historical dimension allows us to observe how Facebook’s response has changed through time, and how freedom of expression has evolved and how emphasis has shifted to new areas of speech, issues, or groups, particularly online. Our reserach highlights areas where progress was noticed, and areas where progress has been insufficient, making relevant recommendations. Our overall finding is that in virtually all areas of freedom of expression we tracked, Facebook responded slowly to develop content moderation policies that were up to international standards. While the international community was more proactive, it too missed opportunities for timely guidance on key areas.

Keywords: facebook, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, terms of service, terms of use, community standards, community guidelines, oversight board

Suggested Citation

Stylianou, Konstantinos and Zingales, Nicolo and Di Stefano, Stefania, Is Facebook Keeping up with International Standards on Freedom of Expression? A Time-Series Analysis 2005-2020 (February 11, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4032703 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4032703

Konstantinos Stylianou (Contact Author)

University of Leeds - School of Law ( email )

Leeds LS2 9JT
United Kingdom

Nicolo Zingales

Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) ( email )

Praia de Botafogo 190
Rio de Janeiro, 22250-900
Brazil

Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC) ( email )

Warandelaan 2
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

Tilburg University - Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT) ( email )

P.O.Box 90153
Prof. Cobbenhagenlaan 221
Tilburg, 5037
Netherlands

Stanford University - Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

Stefania Di Stefano

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) - Department of International Law ( email )

Geneva
Switzerland

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