Silenced Online is empowering internet users in a world of unjust and opaque content takedowns.
Today, public discourse is shaped on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. And while these platforms claim to promote free expression, their content moderation decisions often do just the opposite. Instagram photos of breastfeeding are deleted; Twitter threads reclaiming and repurposing epithets are removed; YouTube videos documenting human rights abuses are erased.
This has grave consequences, from chilling free expression, to stigmatizing certain modes of communication, to silencing important social issues.
Silenced Online is where we, as internet users/consumers, can reclaim agency. We are using a super power that was quantified and commercialised by the platforms themselves: our collective engagement. We are here to “unlike” a pattern of harmful content takedowns.
Silenced Online is both a platform and a campaign. A platform to crowdsource user reports on content takedown; and a campaign to raise awareness about corporate content moderation shortcomings. We want to examine possible biases in enforcing platforms’ community guidelines on the regional level. And, we want to interrogate the discretion of each platform’s regional and language-based team to moderate according to their own political and moral codes.
Lastly, but importantly: This project adds nuances and inclusivity to the conversation around content moderation, without sacrificing freedom of expression over safety.
silenced.online joins ongoing efforts by various organizations, groups and activists working under the same mission, among them
- Coding Rights (Portuguese, Spanish, English)
- Derechos Digitales (Spanish)
- Electronic Frontier Foundation (English)
- Mozilla Foundation (English / Spanish)
- Online Censorship (English)
- Sada Social (Arabic)
- Smex (Arabic / English)
- Syrian Archive (English / Arabic)
- Witness (English / Arabic / Spanish / Portuguese)
- 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media (Arabic / English)
Report content takedown
Silenced Online invites you and everyone you know to report social media platforms. Has Facebook removed your post? Did Twitter suspend your account? Has YouTube taken down a video of your group? Or have they deleted a video documenting serious human rights violations in your region? Was your photo on Instagram breastfeeding your baby deemed “nudity” and taken down? Was your Facebook group or page suspended for “violating community guidelines”? Do you want to learn more about community guidelines and platform policies? Do you want to imagine moderation guidelines that are just, inclusive and impartial? Silenced Online is an open invitation to centalise the conversations, complaints and suggestions on one platform.
Back-Up Your Content
Silenced Online calls on you to back up your content. Not only to protect what you share online from being deleted, but also as a general practice for better digital and data security and safety. Social media platforms are not a safe place for storing your data and the data of those you work with, and definitely is not a secure place to use as an archive. Many groups and individuals have had their accounts or pages suspended and lost access to their data. We will provide you with resources on how to back up your content securely, online and offline. Do it today at your earliest convenience.
Silenced Online is aiming to create a network of organizations and individuals who have been working or want to start working on content takedown and moderation. We are reaching out to organisations, collectives, and individuals who want to join our network. If you are interested, please ping us on Twitter, or contact us via this email address.
- Leil Zahra
A (trans)feminist queer researcher, digital security trainer, and an artist-without-a-discipline, born in Beirut and based in Berlin. Leil is currently a Mozilla Foundation fellow researching Content Takedown and the online Chilling Effect; and working on mobilising for better content moderation practices. They are embedded with Witness.Org. Leil has formed part of several alternative media collectives and political mobilisations in Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and the Spanish State, as well as on an international level. Their work has a major focus on gender, migration, anti-authoritarianism, protest movements and decolonialism. They have an extensive experience in co-starting projects that either get crushed by structural discrimination or hijacked by the system. A self-made middle-classer living with privileges, mental health issues and contradictions. Their work in film is highlighted by their archival project “Words of Women from the Egyptian Revolution”, their work with the Mosireen Collective, and their experimental video essay “Breakup in 9 Scenes”. They are bad with numbers, silence in the face of any form of discrimination, geography, and money.
- Asifeh / Stormtrap (Webdevolper)
Asifeh (also known as Stormtrap) is a Palestinian beatmaker/rapper/programmer based between Vienna and Ramallah. He graduated with an MSc. In Software and Multimedia Development from the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien in 2015. Asifeh has always been interested in both music and coding, and has managed living a healthy balance of both worlds. His latest work as a web developer includes projects such as the online radio Root Radio Live (rootradio.live), which is a streaming platform focusing on alternative and groundbreaking music from the Middle East and beyond. He has also had the pleasure of working on silenced.online, among many other exciting projects as of late.
Asifeh’s music consists of rap vocals, sampled material, and original compositions using modern and abandoned technologies. He is co-founder of the former Ramallah Underground collective, who laid the foundations for a booming underground music scene in Palestine, active during the years 2003 – 2009. Asifeh is 1/3 of the AIWA Collective, who organize and perform regular hip hop events in Berlin. He is also co-founder of the NOISE&BEATS collective, who organize underground events in Vienna. Asifeh has released two solo albums “Iradeh” (2012) and “Datura” (2017), performed around the world in different cities such as Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Melbourne, Beirut, London, Istanbul, Rome, and many more. He regularly releases singles on his SoundCloud page, which includes collaborations with local and international artists (such as Akhenaton, Grup Ses Beats, Synaptik, El Far3y, to name a few). He has just released his third album “Makhazen Bukra” on the Viennese record label Well Gedacht with a grant from AFAC, among other online projects and collaborations.
**** THANK YOU! ****
Special thanks due to Emmi Bevensee, Michael Brennan, Ann Marie Carrothers, Indira Cornelio, Ida Flik, Alexandra Haché, Gabi Ivens, Fieke Jansen, Ling Luther, Kasia Odrozek, Michelle Thorne, Janice Wait, Maria Xynou, Jillian C. York; and to everyone at Witness and Mozilla Foundation. Also thanks are due to my fellow Mozilla fellows from the 2019-2020 cohort for the inspiring conversations and shared experiences.