Bias in social media content management what do human rights have to do with it?

Dorothea ENDRES

In a global context where political campaigning, social movements, and public discourse increasingly take place online, questions regarding the regulation of speech by social media platforms become ever more relevant. Companies like Facebook moderate content posted by users on their platforms through a mixture of automated decision making and human moderators. In this content moderation process, human rights play an ambiguous role: those who struggle with marginalization may find a space for expression and empowerment, or face exacerbation of pre-existing bias. Focusing on the role of human rights in Meta's content management, this essay explores how the protection of speech on social media platforms disadvantages the cultural, social, and economic rights of marginalized communities. This is not to say that speech on social media platforms is devoid of emancipatory potential, but that this potential is not uniformly or equally accessible. We see the incorporation of human rights considerations into decision-making processes as an avenue for alleviating this challenge. This approach faces obstacles from the platforms’ business models, which decenters human rights concerns, and from the limitations of liberal accounts of human rights. From within and against these constraints, human rights can be mobilized as emancipatory power in an effort to decrease marginalization.