In this opinion piece, Thomas Bellaïche, Senior Legal Counsel at Yubo, discusses how Yubo produced its first transparency report in the hope that it gives other tech companies a better understanding of what is involved.
Preventing online harm – especially for children and young people – involves a tremendous amount of dedication and activity. It is vital work that our teams here at Yubo take very seriously and are extremely proud of but, although we’ve always communicated our safety strategy and promoted our safety tools, we haven’t always published key data.
So, in April 2022, we produced our first Yubo Transparency Report. The report outlines our approach to online safety in 2021 and includes metrics about moderation, content removal, law enforcement reports and other key areas.
Yubo is a social live-streaming platform with more than 60 million users worldwide. It’s a space where anyone can belong, feel safe by creating positive connections and make friends instead of followers.
Operated by Twelve-App, a French company based in Paris, Yubo is a live social discovery application for young people to expand their social circles online with friends from all around the world. We believe we have a special responsibility to the Yubo community and we’ve implemented various safeguards across the platform. We also work with our Safety Board and the broader technology industry, NGOs and charities, including the Tech Coalition and WeProtect Global Alliance, which we are pleased to announce that we have recently joined, to create industry-leading child protection standards and run awareness and educational campaigns.
Our safety strategy for Yubo is to protect, support and educate young people rather than impose sanctions on them. We use a proactive and preventative approach to reduce harm and have developed a range of algorithms and technologies that detect suspicious behaviour and inappropriate content on Yubo. This is supported by various teams, including safety specialists who monitor, investigate and take action on the app 24/7 to protect our community, especially younger users.
You can find out more about our approach to safety and the tools we offer in our Safety Hub.
As part of our commitment to online safety and having expanded our safety teams significantly, we wanted to provide a report that would be accessible, transparent and accountable and that would enable us to comply with our legal and regulatory obligations. Moreover, we wanted to raise awareness of the measures that have been deployed and the technologies it involves to protect Yubo’s young users.
“Get straight to the point, keep it short and present it well” were our main guidelines for the report – we didn’t want to produce a never-ending document that would be a hassle to read. As the report would be used to promote our safety work, the design was critical so we included speech bubbles, illustrations, bullet points and concise text.
It was our goal to assess our safety strategy and measures so we could share key achievements and data with our community, partners and other stakeholders. This included a focus on the safeguards we have put in place to protect our community from online harm, including Child Sexual Abuse Material and sexual exploitation, as well as highlighting all the teams involved in this work.
Being transparent and accountable means demonstrating the effectiveness of your safety strategy, measures and operations. As a young company, this was not an easy task as we did not have the infrastructure in place to quickly gather certain metrics and analyse them. Thanks to the experience of our first transparency report, we have been working on tools to facilitate better data insights.
Alongside our desire to promote our online safety work, there are various legal and regulatory obligations about transparency that we must comply with. The following guidelines, which we mapped for our own transparency report requirements, might be useful for your own report:
- Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation
- OECD Voluntary Transparency Reporting Framework
- Tech Coalition’s TRUST: Voluntary Framework for Industry Transparency
- EU Regulation 2021/1232 on combating online child sexual abuse
- EU Regulation on addressing the dissemination of terrorist content online
- EU Digital Services Act
- Draft Online Safety Bill (UK)
Online safety needs more visibility with the general public and relevant institutions. It is only by raising awareness that tech companies will become trusted partners and more able to build a safer internet with the help of key stakeholders, including lawmakers. Being more transparent and promoting industry good practices is critical to this.
Many large tech companies already publish transparency reports and it is becoming a legal requirement in some countries (for example, the UK’s Draft Online Safety Bill notes that service providers should produce an annual transparency report).
By mapping their legal and regulatory obligations, however, some tech companies may conclude that producing a transparency report does not apply to them. We would argue that the technology industry as a whole can only benefit from more transparency when it comes to online safety.
Here at Yubo, we made the choice to go beyond our obligations. And we would encourage any tech company that takes online safety, especially content and user moderation, seriously to make the same assessment and publish their own transparency report. In line with our core values of openness, safety and privacy, putting our report together was a positive and enlightening process for everyone involved.