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Facebook, Google under EFF scrutiny to explain removed posts

The Electronic Frontier Foundation asks tech giants to be more transparent on how and why your content is removed.

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Digital rights groups want tech companies to explain to you -- clearly -- why your posts are removed.
Anadolu Agency/Contributor/Getty Images

Ever noticed one of your Facebook posts disappear without explanation?

You're not the only one. Not-for-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a coalition of digital rights groups have called on big tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google, to explain decisions behind removed content as well as improve appeals policies.

They published a document on Monday titled "The Santa Clara Principles," asking tech companies to disclose details concerning "content removals, account suspensions, appeals, and other practices that impact free expression," the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), another group in the coalition, said in a statement Monday.

The groups suggest in the document that relevant information should be divided into three categories -- numbers, notice and appeal -- and submitted in a quarterly report in an "openly licensed, machine-readable format."

The Santa Clara Principles comes on the heels of a recent Facebook update to its Community Standards guidelines intended to explain how content moderators deal with objectionable material. It also expanded appeals rules so that users can now challenge Facebook about the removal of a piece of content.

While the CDT and EFF recognised Facebook for its efforts, they believe more needs to be done, with The EFF calling current practices "shoddy opaque private censorship."

"Our goal is to ensure that enforcement of content guidelines is fair, transparent, proportional, and respectful of users' rights," said EFF senior staff attorney Nate Cardozo.

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