Complete Story


It’s Getting Harder for the Government to Secretly Flag Your Social Posts

A U.S. court ruling and a new EU law could restrict content moderation tips

When Israeli police smothered Palestinian protests on the streets of East Jerusalem in May 2021, a separate agency attempted its own sweep online. The Cybercrime Department in Israel's Ministry of Justice sent social media companies lists of thousands of user accounts it wanted removed for violating the services' content policies with their posts about the protests.

A former Twitter employee says the company suspended a few of the accounts flagged by the Israeli agency for using hateful or harassing language. But policy staffers determined that most were simply Palestinians and others tweeting comments that, while critical of Israel, did not break any rules.

The Israeli cyber department is an example of what scholars of online platforms call an internet referral unit—a government team created to badger online services into taking action against content it doesn’t like. A raft of IRUs have been launched by countries across the world as governments of all kinds grapple with online platforms. Tech companies often prioritize IRU requests in moderation queues, to the concern of critics who say the units can reflect political motivations and often skirt legal hurdles designed to prevent unfair censorship.

Please select this link to read the complete article from WIRED.

Printer-Friendly Version