UNESCO supports the Albanian Media Council to conduct research on the moderation of journalistic content on social media
“Journalism is becoming more and more dependent on social media for accessing and distributing information. Thanks to UNESCO, we have been able to conduct research to better understand how content moderation practices can impact journalistic editorial freedom,” said Koloreto Cukali, Executive Director of the Albanian Media Council.
This research has been supported as one of the activities of the UNESCO-EU project “Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey – Phase 2.” The Albania Media Council focused this time exclusively on selected journalistic content produced by media outlets that are members of AMC and their handling by Meta/Facebook, the region’s most widely used social media platform (in February 2022, the company had 92.19% of the share in the Albanian social media market).
Nineteen media outlets that participated in the research documented concrete cases when their articles were removed, given less prominence or their accounts blocked following the posting of an article. These content moderation decisions were then analyzed against the journalistic ethical standards of the Albanian Media Council to compare if decisions were aligned or not.
In total, eight media outlets documented at least 27 cases and reported to have had at least 50 undocumented cases of some type of restriction. The research found out that out of 27, 22 journalistic articles were removed by the platform as they were found to violate their community standards while not violating the Albanian Journalistic Code of Ethics. Moreover, according to some research findings, media outlets reported that they did not receive a response from the platform when they tried to question the content moderation decision.
The number of journalistic articles removed from the social media platform is relatively small, but it targets articles of high public interest, such as special reporting, political op-eds and investigative reporting.
As a potential solution to this, the press and media councils from the region, including the Albanian Media Council, have adopted in November 2021 the Regional Declaration of Press Councils in South East Europe to call on the social media platforms to install a dialogue with the press councils and establish specific appeal mechanisms for members of press and media councils when their journalistic content is taken down.
“Media self-regulatory bodies and their ethical standards for journalism can play a meaningful role in ensuring that professional and quality journalistic content is accessible to users and not unjustly removed from the platforms,” Koloreto Cukali explained.