"Context" principle

This thread is for comments on the Prevention of harm principle that will form part of Prostasia Foundation’s draft Best Practice Principles for Sexual Content Moderation and Child Protection. Please consult that master thread for background information.

Here is the current text, to be used as a starting point:

The context in which lawful sexual content is posted, and whether the persons depicted in it are believed to have consented to be depicted in that context, should be considered before making a decision to restrict it.

Please post your comments and suggestions below.

Thanks for the suggestion. I would like to hear what others think about this idea.

Another suggestion is that we should not just be talking about restricting but also about promoting or recommending content. Innocent content can be placed in a context that exposes children to harm. What do people think?

There are difficulties with suggesting that platforms that host content should have a proactive obligation to ensure that the subjects of an image have consented. Ian O’Brien’s presentation about the federal record keeping law for porn, 18 U.S.C. § 2257, highlighted some of these difficulties. Whoever takes the photograph, and the person who uploads it, are better placed to ensure consent.

So I think it would be better to shift away from the subjective language of “belief” here and instead to favor an objective “reasonable grounds” test. Also, to cover the case of YouTube actively promoting content through recommendations, I’m tentatively suggesting here that consent is relevant to both restricting or promoting content.

We still need more feedback on this principle (and the others), but here is a revised (but still draft) version that I will push into the next point-revision 0.2 of the principles, for the RightsCon background paper:

The context in which lawful sexual content is posted, and whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the persons depicted in it have consented to be depicted in that context, should be considered before making a decision to restrict or to promote it.

I’m likely the last sort of person who you want to be hearing this from, however I think with the incident with YouTube, it was largely people posting comments on videos which could be considered creepy and focusing on specific timestamps in the videos where children were caught in compromising positions.

YouTube took the step of disabling comments on all children’s videos as a result, with the exception of a handful of channels they believed to be more reasonably moderated.
It would be extremely difficult for YouTube to ensure consent given the nature of it’s platform and often only the uploader knows if they have such.

If they have sufficient reason (this is slightly fuzzy) to believe that consent was not granted or if they’re explicitly informed that it was not given by the subject, then they should take the content down.

It would be unfortunate if all videos of children trying to express themselves were censored due to a few bad apples posting comments. When I was a child, I myself was drawn to the idea of fame on a large platform such as this.

I was very cautious at the time despite only being ten and avoided posting any too identifying information or doing anything that could put me in real danger. Perhaps, education can assist in this area to some extent?

This is just my personal opinion on the matter and there may be things I’m not aware of.

You’re right, ensuring consent is a difficult problem. We’re talking with the National Coalition Against Censorship to try to dig a bit deeper into what sort of more detailed best practices might be appropriate here, because it’s a problem that confronts them also. As you also correctly identify, education is certainly another part of addressing this difficult issue.

And of course you are welcome to post here! Everyone who follows our site rules is very welcome to participate.