Dragana Kaurin, Executive Director, Localization Lab
Giulia Balestra, Program Manager, Localization Lab
Atnafu Brhane, Language Contributor, Localization Lab
Targets: Translation and localization of policies that regulate online spaces - such as Youtube's or Facebook's community standards - is a fundamental step towards building more inclusive, just, peaceful and resilient societies. When policy translations, especially for minority languages, are of poor quality or ambiguous, this can exacerbate inequality, injustice online and offline - allowing hate speech and incitement to violence to remain ungoverned, with consequences we are yet to fully grasp. Because it is communities that are already marginalized or at risk (due to their gender or sexual preference, or their belonging to a linguistic or ethnic minority group) who are likely to be the most affected, improving the quality of translations and the access tech platforms policies will contribute to greater gender equality, and peaceful and just institutions. As more and more people across the globe make use of these platforms, the need for greater accountability from tech giants towards users follows, and this starts from policies and content that people outside the Global North can understand and see themselves included and reflected in.
Lighting talk - presentation of the research project and Q&A session.
Each major tech platform has different policies which guide what it allows and how it will act on violations of its rules, as well its own obligations to users. These policies govern the use of platforms by billions of global users - however, they are not equally accessible to all the people they apply to. Currently, there is no industry standard when it comes to the translation of public-facing policy documents for major tech platforms. Different companies have different priorities and thresholds when it comes to translation, and it is often hard to locate documents in various languages for comparison and quality control. Facebook’s Community Standards, for example, are translated into more than fifty languages, however, given the global reach of the platform, this means that the rules are unavailable in languages with millions or even tens-of-millions of speakers. Compounding this lack of translation, previously there have been well-documented quality issues with the translation of documents that raise questions about the resources and oversight that companies have given these processes. The need for clear industry standards around translation and localization of public-facing policy documents is becoming increasingly accepted in platform governance discourse. At the beginning of 2022, Localization Lab embarked on a research project to review the translations of selected tech platforms policies (Facebook’s and Youtube community standards) across selected languages (Amharic, Hindi, Bengali, Arabic). The aim of this pilot project was to establish a baseline to anchor these discussions and ultimately advance the industry towards some commonly accepted minimum standards and greater accountability. Initial findings uncover various degrees of quality, accessibility and inclusivity of the policies translations and highlighted problematic or grey areas in these policies and the need to have higher standards for translations and better localization of these policies so that they truly speak to the users and are adapted and take into account the specificities of local contexts. Ultimately, internet governance and greater platform accountability stems from establishing a system of norms, rules, policies and practices that is inclusive of all - regardless of language spoken, gender, cultural or religious background, ethnicity or country of origin. Localization of fundamental policies to make these more usable, accessible and representative - is a first, yet important step in the right direction.
1)How will you facilitate interaction between onsite and online speakers and attendees? Having both speakers onsite and online will allow for a better and more inclusive session, accommodating the various needs of participants. All attendees will have a chance to actively participate in the Q&A session, in writing or intervening. The role of the moderator will be crucial in ensuring that there is a good balance between participants online and onsite and that all voices are represented. 2) How will you design the session to ensure the best possible experience for online and onsite participants? Speakers (1 online and 1 onsite) will give a presentation for 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of Q&A facilitated by the moderator. Questions will be collected through the Zoom chat and in the room by the moderator and both online and onsite participants will have equal opportunity to intervene. 3) Please note any complementary online tools/platforms you plan to use to increase participation and interaction during the session. If required and because of the nature of our work, we can provide translation in various languages and adjust to any accessibility needs.