Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube have an outsized impact in our social lives. We treat these platforms as a “public sphere”, using them to discuss issues both controversial and menial, to connect with friends far and near, and to engage in activism and debate. But while these platforms may be used by the public, they’re ultimately owned by private companies with their own rules and systems of governance that control—and in some cases, censor—users’ content. We have seen before how powerful social media platforms can be in inspiring protests, fostering political movements, and even influencing elections. It’s clear that these companies significantly contribute to and influence public discourse, and the way that social media platforms approach freedom of expression and speech needs to be transparent so we, as a society, can hold them accountable. 

Onlinecensorship.org seeks to encourage companies to operate with greater transparency and accountability toward their users as they make decisions that regulate speech. We offer resources, information on how to appeal different media platforms, and original research on what content is taken down, why companies make certain decisions about content, and how content takedowns are affecting communities around the world. 

By collecting these reports, we’re not just looking for trends. We’re also looking for context, and to build an understanding of how the removal of content affects users’ lives. Often the communities that are most impacted by online censorship are also the most marginalized—so the people that are censored are also those that are least likely to be heard. Our aim is to amplify those voices and help them to advocate for change