Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google+ have an outsized impact in our social lives. We treat these platforms as a “public sphere”, using them to discuss issues both controversial and menial, to connect with friends far and near, and to engage in activism and debate. But while these platforms may be used by the public, they’re ultimately owned by private companies with their own rules and systems of governance that control—and in some cases, censor—users’ content.

Onlinecensorship.org seeks to encourage companies to operate with greater transparency and accountability toward their users as they make decisions that regulate speech. We know they’re big fans of data—so we’re collecting reports from their users in an effort to shine a light on what content is taken down, why companies make certain decisions about content, and how content takedowns are affecting communities of users around the world.

By collecting these reports, we’re not just looking for trends. We’re also looking for context, and to build an understanding of how the removal of content affects users’ lives. Often the communities that are most impacted by online censorship are also the most marginalized—so the people that are censored are also those that are least likely to be heard. Our aim is to amplify those voices and help them to advocate for change.