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Brennan Center Urges Facebook to Provide Users with Mechanism to Appeal Content Censorship

The Brennan Center and over 90 other civil rights and digital rights organizations signed on to an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg to add transparency and accountability to Facebook’s content removal process.

Published: November 15, 2018

In an Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg, the undersigned organizations call on Facebook to add real transparency and accountability to its content removal process. Facebook has a responsibility to respect its users’ freedom of expression. Yet, for most users, content that Facebook removes is rarely restored, and some users may be banned from the platform even in the event of an error. The letter asks that Facebook implement common sense standards to afford its users due process, including by clearly explaining how much content it removes and providing all users with a fair and timely method to appeal removals. Specifically, the groups demand that Facebook provide:

  • Notice: Clearly explain to users why their content has been restricted, how the content was detected, evaluated, and removed, and how to appeal the decision.
  • Appeals: Provide users with a chance to appeal content moderation decisions, receive prompt replies and timely human review, and present evidence during the review process.
  • Numbers: Issue regular transparency reports on Community Standards enforcement that include a breakdown of the type of content restricted, data on how the content moderation actions were initiated, and the number of decisions that were appealed and found to have been made in error.

The groups also ask Facebook to incorporate the Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation – which recommend a set of minimum standards for transparency and meaningful appeal – into their content moderation policies and practices. These Principles are consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, as well as the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of the right to freedom of expression and opinion David Kaye, who called for a “framework for the moderation of user-generated online content that puts human rights at the very center.”


Article 19
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Center for Democracy and Technology
Ranking Digital Rights

7amleh – Arab Center for Social Media Advancement
Access Now
ACLU Foundation of Northern California
Adil Soz – International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC)
Albanian Media Institute
American Civil Liberties Union
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Arab Digital Expression Foundation
Artículo 12
Asociación Mundial de Radios Comunitarias América Latina y el Caribe (AMARC ALC)
Association for Progressive Communications
Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law
Bytes for All (B4A)
CAIR San Francisco Bay Area
Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI)
Cedar Rapids, Iowa Collaborators
Center for Independent Journalism – Romania
Center for Media Studies & Peace Building (CEMESP)
Child Rights International Network (CRIN)
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
Digital Rights Foundation
EFF Austin
El Instituto Panameño de Derecho y Nuevas Tecnologías (IPANDETEC)
Electronic Frontier Finland
Elektronisk Forpost Norge
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Foundation for Press Freedom – FLIP
Freedom Forum
Fundación Acceso
Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente
Fundación Datos Protegidos
Fundación Internet
Fundación Vía Libre
Fundamedios – Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study
Garoa Hacker Club
Global Voices Advocacy
Gulf Center for Human Rights
HERMES Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights
Homo Digitalis
Human Rights Watch
Idec – Brazilian Institute of Consumer Defense
Independent Journalism Center (IJC)
Index on Censorship
Initiative for Freedom of Expression – Turkey
Instituto Nupef
International Press Centre (IPC)
Internet without borders
Intervozes – Coletivo Brasil de Comunicação Social
La Asociación para una Ciudadanía Participativa ACI Participa
May First/People Link
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
Mediacentar Sarajevo
New America’s Open Technology Institute
NYC Privacy
Open MIC (Open Media and Information Companies Initiative)
Pacific Islands News Association (PINA)
Panoptykon Foundation
PEN America
PEN Canada
Peninsula Peace and Justice Center
Portland TA3M
Privacy Watch
Prostasia Foundation
Raging Grannies
ReThink LinkNYC
Rhode Island Rights
SHARE Foundation
South East Europe Media Organisation
Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)
Syrian Archive
Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
Viet Tan
Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State
Visualizing Impact