International researchers call for accountability and transparency regarding algorithmic content moderation

“The Ethics of Digitalisation” project has completed its first research sprint and published three policy briefs, calling for more transparency and accountability concerning algorithmic content moderation. The Global Network of Internet and Society Research Centers (NoC) joint project is under the patronage of the German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and funded by Stiftung Mercator.
The initiative brings ethics to the forefront of the debate around platforms and their handling of content.

Berlin, 3 December 2020 – “The Ethics of Digitalisation” project has completed its first research sprint and published three policy briefs, calling for more transparency and accountability concerning algorithmic content moderation. The Global Network of Internet and Society Research Centers (NoC) joint project is under the patronage of the German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and funded by Stiftung Mercator.

The initiative by the Global Network of Internet and Society Research Centers (NoC) brings ethics to the forefront of the debate around platforms and their handling of content.

In response to increasing public pressure to tackle hate speech and other challenging content, platform companies have turned to algorithmic content moderation systems. These automated tools promise to be more effective and efficient in identifying potentially illegal or unwanted material. But algorithmic content moderation also raises many questions – all of which eschew simple answers. Where is the line between hate speech and freedom of expression – and how to automate this on a global scale? And how can policymakers ensure an adequate level of transparency and accountability in platforms’ algorithmic content moderation processes?

These were just some of the issues that drove the research sprint on AI and content moderation hosted virtually by the HIIG over the course of ten weeks from August until October 2020. an interdisciplinary group of thirteen international fellows from nine different countries produced three policy briefs that make recommendations on how to address the most pressing challenges arising from automation in content moderation.

The sprint was the first research format of the project “The Ethics of Digitalisation – from Principles to Practices” under the patronage of the German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. This project, funded by Stiftung Mercator, aims to foster a global dialogue on the ethics of digitalisation. The main NoC project partners are the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University, the Digital Asia Hub, HIIG and the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans Bredow Institute.

The current second research sprint (October – December 2020), hosted by the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University, explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on access to education and learning spaces. In February 2021, the HIIG will host a two-week clinic on  increasing fairness in ad delivery on social networks. For more information on the project as well as a detailed timeline please visit the project page.

Visit the policy briefs for more detail:

Policy Brief I – Making Audits Meaningful

Policy Brief II – Disclosure Rules for Algorithmic Content Moderation

Policy Brief III – Freedom of Expression in the Digital Public Sphere

Read our blog article here:

When Scholars Sprint, Bad Algorithms Are on the Run

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