The VTRF is an international hub for submitting and accessing standardised transparency reports from online content-sharing services about their policies and actions on terrorist and violent extremist content (TVEC). The reports are based on a questionnaire that covers 12 main topics, is designed to be answerable by all content-sharing services regardless of their size, business model, reporting experience, or approach to content moderation, and is intended to produce a baseline level of transparency. Simply put, the VTRF provides an international common standard and site for TVEC transparency reports.
The VTRF’s overarching purpose is to improve the evidence base on TVEC online. It aims to do that by fostering
- More transparency reports on TVEC
- that answer a set of questions that are flexible enough to accommodate different business models, sizes, and moderation approaches
- but that also bring a greater degree of standardisation to the reported information
- and, over time, lead to more comprehensive and innovative transparency reporting
By providing a common standard for TVEC transparency reporting, the VTRF will enable a better industry-wide perspective on progress towards the goal of reducing the prevalence and reach of TVEC while protecting human rights. The VTRF may also contribute to more evidence-based policymaking in both the public and private sectors, ultimately advancing Internet safety. In addition, it may mitigate the risk of uncoordinated national transparency reporting standards going forward, which means it has the potential to decrease the reporting burden on industry.
This portal is the pilot version of the VTRF, or “VTRF 1.0”. Here you can find:
- Information about the VTRF and the OECD
- Useful resources on TVEC transparency reporting, such as a glossary and OECD benchmarking reports on industry policies and procedures for addressing TVEC
- Transparency reports submitted through the VTRF by online content-sharing services
- The VTRF questionnaire and instructions for completing it
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) led the development of the VTRF. Two years in the making, VTRF 1.0 has benefited from the insight and experience of more than 100 of the world’s leading experts on counter-terrorism, counter-violent extremism, digital governance and policy, law, and human rights, as well as the 38 Member countries and other stakeholder groups represented in the OECD’s Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP). Representing governments, content-sharing services, civil society organisations, and academics, the experts collaboratively developed the VTRF’s glossary and questionnaire through conscientious work, careful negotiation and compromise. CDEP then considered the draft framework and approved it in December 2021.
The VTRF can make transparency reporting on TVEC more useful, convenient, and efficient for all stakeholders. Not only does the VTRF provide a turnkey reporting template for online content-sharing services, but governments, civil society, researchers and indeed anyone who wishes to consult transparency reports on TVEC will benefit from having access to a central collection of reports that meet a common standard.
Although more online content-sharing services are starting to issue transparency reports on TVEC, so far they have all gone about it differently. They report different metrics, use different methodologies and definitions of key terms, and report with different frequencies. That, together with the fact that many services still do not report on TVEC at all, makes it impossible to gain a sector-wide perspective on the problem and what is being done to address it. Similarly, while more and more governments are issuing or considering regulations that will require TVEC transparency reports, they, too, are going about it in different ways. The VTRF answers this two-sided coordination problem by providing a more standardised approach to TVEC transparency reporting through a centralised, online hub.
The services that complete the VTRF questionnaire are a coalition of the willing who have voluntarily opened themselves up to outside scrutiny. That in itself is to be commended; many services are still not transparent about their policies and actions on TVEC at all. In fact, contributing to the development of the VTRF and using it may have already led some services to identify and make improvements, in addition to demonstrating their commitments to accountability and online safety.
The “V” in VTRF stands for “voluntary”. Using it is beneficial, but not compulsory.
No, the VTRF does not define TVEC. Instead, it provides a common way for content-sharing services to report while working with the definitions of their own choosing and to improve upon them over time, with the goal that the services will eventually converge on the best definition(s).
VTRF 1.0 was developed with the kind financial support of Australia, Korea and New Zealand.
The VTRF questionnaire is a series of qualitative and quantitative questions, covering 12 main topics from definitions, detection and actioning methods to appeal processes, self-evaluation and crisis protocols. Many are in a simple Yes/No or multiple choice format and can be answered with a click of the mouse. Others call for data, a more descriptive response, or both. Every question provides an opportunity to add clarifications or additional information if the respondent wishes to do so. Doing so is entirely optional. You can navigate through the VTRF questionnaire here: “Preview blank questionnaire”.
Throughout the VTRF questionnaire, key words and terms are highlighted in light blue. By hovering your mouse over them, you will notice that a question mark appears. Click on it to display the associated definition in the glossary without changing the page.
Yes. VTRF 1.0 is the pilot version. It establishes a common standard for a baseline level of TVEC transparency reporting. This means that it asks only for fundamental information through questions that are answerable by any service, regardless of its size or reporting experience. Future editions of the framework will feature improvements to the baseline level, as well as an additional layer of questions and metrics for services that wish to provide transparency beyond the baseline level. The VTRF may also expand to cover reporting on other types of illegal content for which transparency is needed, such as child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
The VTRF questionnaire is intended for use by any online content-sharing services that wish to issue transparency reports on TVEC, no matter what its business model, size, reporting experience and approach to content moderation are. The questionnaire is to be completed at the individual online content-sharing service level, not necessarily at the corporate-wide level. Therefore, entities that operate more than one content-sharing service on which TVEC is a potential challenge are asked to complete a separate questionnaire for each one. However, if an individual service features multiple functionalities, it is not necessary to complete a separate questionnaire for each functionality. For example, if a company owns a social media platform and a separate video streaming platform, it should complete two questionnaires. But if the social media platform also has functionality for, say, livestreaming, it is unnecessary to fill out two separate questionnaires for that one platform.
The questionnaire is for content-sharing services doing business anywhere.
Having an account allows a user to register and log in securely, which is necessary for completing and submitting the questionnaire. The “Account” section, therefore, is only for online content-sharing services that wish to complete the questionnaire. Stakeholders who simply wish to peruse the portal and its contents do not need an account to do so.
- To create an account and start submitting transparency reports, complete the following steps:
- Go to the “Account” section of the menu and click on “Register”
- Fill in the requested information
- Create a username and password
- Don’t forget to tick the box to accept the portal’s conditions
- Enter the 6-digit code that will be emailed to you
- Submit your request
- Upon validation by the OECD, you will receive a confirmation email to activate your account
- Please note that only one account per content-sharing service will be needed.
Completed questionnaires become publicly available transparency reports. Specifically, in the “Account” section, an online content-sharing service (respondent) can fill out a VTRF questionnaire and submit it. Once the respondent reaches the end of the questionnaire and clicks “Submit”, the OECD will review the submission within 3 business days. This is not to evaluate the submission’s merits but to ensure that there were no glitches or misunderstandings. If there were no problems, the report will enter the portal’s database, where anyone can freely access and download it.
In addition, provided the respondent indicated on the questionnaire that it
prohibits terrorist and/or violent extremist content on its service, and either
- uses one or more specific, publicly available definitions or understandings of terrorist and/or violent extremist content, OR
- considers terrorist and/or violent extremist content to be included in other categories of content that it prohibits (such as criminal activity, incitement to violence, graphic violence or hate speech),
- uses at least one method to detect terrorist and/or violent extremist content
which are necessary conditions for the rest of the questionnaire to be relevant, the first page of the completed report will be stamped with a seal attesting that it meets the OECD standard for baseline transparency reporting on TVEC. Submissions that do not meet those minimum conditions will still be published, but without the seal.
The blank questionnaire is what elicits information from respondents when they fill it out. Transparency reports, for purposes of the VTRF, are completed questionnaires that have been submitted and published on the portal.
Once every six months, starting as early as 1 January 2021 - 30 June 2021. At the very beginning of the questionnaire, respondents are asked to select the reporting period for which they are submitting information. When the VTRF pilot was launched, 1 January 2021 - 30 June 2021 was the only period that could be selected. However, respondents are now invited to submit transparency reports on a biannual basis for the following two reporting periods:
- 1 January – 30 June
- 1 July – 31 December
All visitors, regardless of professional affiliation, are welcome to leave feedback on the VTRF’s format, contents, or both,. Your feedback is valuable and the OECD will use it to improve the VTRF and design its future versions. Although this is entirely optional, we encourage visitors to enter their personal information in the appropriate fields when leaving feedback so that we can identify your affiliation and contact you if we have any questions. Please note that feedback is for internal use only and will not appear publicly on the portal.
To leave feedback, simply complete the following steps:
- Click on the “Feedback?” section of the menu
- Answer the two mandatory fields
- Fill in your personal information (optional)
- Do not forget to tick the box to agree to the portal’s conditions
- Click “Submit”
Please note that feedback is for internal use by the OECD only and will not appear publicly on the portal.