On “Trusted” Flaggers

Naomi Appelman
Paddy Leerssen
24 Yale J.L. & Tech. 452

This essay unpacks the practices of trusted flagging. We first discuss self-regulatory flagging partnerships on several major platforms. We then review various forms of government involvement and regulation, focusing especially on the EU context, where law-making on this issue is especially prevalent. On this basis, we conceptualize different variants of trusted flagging, in terms of their legal construction, position in the content moderation process and the nature of their flagging privileges. We then discuss competing narratives about the role of trusted flaggers; as a source of expertise and representation; as an unaccountable co-optation by public and private power; and as a performance of inclusion. In this way, we illustrate how “trusted flagging,” in its everyday operationalization and critique, serves as a site of contestation between competing interests and legitimacy claims in platform governance.