Social Media Platforms Remove War Crimes Evidence

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Social media platforms are taking down online content they consider terrorist, violently extremist, or hateful in a way that prevents its potential use to investigate serious crimes, including war crimes, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. While it is understandable that these platforms remove content that incites or promotes violence, they should ensure that this material is archived so it can possibly be used to hold those responsible to account.The 42-page report, “‘Video Unavailable’: Social Media Platforms Remove Evidence of War Crimes,” urges all stakeholders, including social media platforms, to come together to develop an independent mechanism to preserve potential evidence of serious crimes. They should ensure that the content is available to support national and international investigations, as well as research by nongovernmental organizations, journalists, and academics. Rights groups have been urging social media companies since 2017 to improve transparency and accountability around content takedowns.“Some of the content that Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms are taking down has crucial and irreplaceable value as evidence of human rights atrocities,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “With prosecutors, researchers, and journalists increasingly relying on photographs and videos posted publicly on social …

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