Digital Services Act (DSA): What It Is and What It Means for Content Moderation

What is the DSA?

The Digital Services Act protects the fundamental rights of EU individuals through fair and transparent data practices.

It follows the guiding principle of “whatever is illegal offline, is illegal online”.

The core tenants are:

  • Protection against illegal content (inc. fraudulent adverts)
    Protection against unfair treatment in content moderation practices
    Transparency reporting for accountability


Who is impacted by the DSA?

The DSA breaks responsibilities down into service categories:

  • Intermediary services: such as internet providers or domain registrars
  • Hosting services: such as web hosting or cloud storage services
  • Online platforms: Online marketplaces, app stores, and social media platforms
  • Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPS) & Very Large Online Search Engines (VLOSE): The same services as above, but those who have more than 45m active recipients of the services (not registered users) have further obligations

Content Moderation

The DSA has standardised content moderation activities through several prescriptive obligations:

  • Policy management: Everything starts with a policy, for content to transparently moderated and fair sanctions issued to users there must be a clear policy to enforce against
  • Statement of reason: This is the notification system to users to explain why their content was actioned (taken down, downranked etc.), what policy the user violated or whether the content was deemed illegal under the DSA. There are certain things that users must be told, such as how the content was discovered, what the internal complaint is and how to access the designated out-of-court settlement mechanism
  • Notice & action inc. trusted flaggers: is a way for anyone, and trusted flaggers (designated by EU) to report the presence of illegal content. Again, there are defined requirements in the DSA such as sending a confirmation email to reporters, and notifying them of the decision and how to challenge that
  • Transparency reporting: Is a result of the moderation activities, showing how much content was actioned, what type of content and appeals

This list is by no means exhaustive, but there are numerous obligations that go beyond simple content moderation.

Having a purpose-built solution that contains the features you need, that requires minimal set-up and time to deploy is essential. Checkstep is just that, comprehensive, simple and effective content moderation for DSA compliance.

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