Broker Check

Should Social Media Be Regulated?

December 04, 2020

In 2020 the coronavirus pandemic and the presidential election have focused attention on social media's role in conveying both information and disinformation.

A report by the Forum for Information and Democracy, established to make non-binding recommendations to 38 countries, seeks to end "informational chaos" posing a threat to democracies. Their recommendations as described in a Cyber Security Intelligence post include

  • Social networks should be required to release details of their algorithims and core functions to trusted researchers for vetting.
  • A "building code" with mandatory safety and quality requirements for digital platforms.
  • Social networks should provide corrections when fact checkers identify a story as false.
  • Stop viral content from spreading until it has been fact checked.
  • Social networks should disclose why content in their news feed has been recommended.
  • Limiting micro-targeting advertising.
  • Make it illegal to exclude people from content based on their race or religion.
  • Ban "dark patterns" designed to confuse or frustrate users.

These recommendations raise the question of whether if not adopted voluntarily by social networks they should be enforced by governments. Any type of  censorship can be manipulated to serve a particular group's purpose. The best defense against misinformation is educated users. At present the volume of misinformation requires it be monitored and flagged.