Disinformation… Meet Regulation

Lery PointDuJour

Major change is coming to #tech #platforms for how #content is moderated. If one makes a post online that person is entitled to free speech which basically means they can say whatever they want even if it is cruel or untrue. The same is for any voice recording such as a #podcast or news broadcast as long as it is labeled as an “opinion” i.e. free speech.

The difficulty comes when opinions are presented as facts without any clear indication for the reader/viewer as to what is fact and what is opinion. Consider also that on social, a decorated, appointed government official has the same reach as the captain of the high school #basketball team.

Historically, Section 230, the applicable existing regulation which was designed for #telecom is what most reference for #social platforms. Lately, what most have been calling for is regulation that looks more like editorial #regulation such as what is in place for newspapers and television. In order to address this need, the United States is considering the Platform Accountability and Transparency Act and the European Union is crafting the Digital Services Act.


"Without clear rules on portability, strict privacy laws encourage companies to lock down data, refusing to share with others, to minimize regulatory risks." - Mark Zuckerberg

How often does a leader of industry ask for regulation? Probably never. However this is so impactful that #Zuckerberg saw the trend before the concern about youth on #social, before the 2016 #presidential campaign and before social was used as a weapon in #Ukraine. This led to the #congressional hearings on social platforms where #regulation was first discussed.


For disinformation, Jan 6th and more tragedies, think about Schenck v. United States or the “Shouting fire in a crowded theater” concept. The US Supreme Court took Schenck, and later clarified in Brandenburg v. Ohio, to say (armchair legal paraphrase) that free speech is banned in situations that incite imminent lawless action (riot). Meaning, yeah, we have free speech but you cannot just post things online that incite a riot without penalty to claim free speech later. It is far more complicated to establish a direct link between social and a tragedy, unlike the immediate clear action of yelling fire in the theater, but the outcomes are the same and so regulators would look to create a framework that holds social platform users accountable for deliberately yelling fire in a virtual public space.

Lery works with technology, finance, marketing, analytics, business intelligence & data science teams to further their efforts in data driven innovation; DataESV (engineering, science & visualization).

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