Senators want to make social media liable for spreading health misinformation

Posted:
in General Discussion
Two Senators are introducing a new bill that would strip Section 230 protections from social media companies should they facilitate the spread of misinformation about a public health crisis -- like COVID.

Credit: WikiMedia Commons
Credit: WikiMedia Commons


Lawmakers are continuing to examine Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter against being sued for users' posts. Separately, two Senators now want to create a carveout from the Section 230 protections for health misinformation posted by users.

The Health Misinformation Act is by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM). According to The Verge, the act directs the Health and Human Services Secretary to create and issue guidelines on what counts as misinformation about health.

"For far too long, online platforms have not done enough to protect the health of Americans," said Klobuchar in a statement. "These are some of the biggest, richest companies in the world and they must do more to prevent the spread of deadly vaccine misinformation."

"The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how lethal misinformation can be and it is our responsibility to take action," she continued.

Kevin Martin, Facebook's vice president of public policy said that the company believes the bill could be positive for the technology industry.

"We have long supported common industry standards and section 230 reform," he said. "We believe clarification on the difficult and urgent questions about health related misinformation would be helpful and look forward to working with Congress and the industry as we consider options for reform."

As currently planned, the proposed bill would see Facebook, and others, become liable where such health misinformation is related to an emergency such as the coronavirus. Where the senators want the exception to Section 230 to apply is when such misinformation is being spread and amplified because of the social media company's algorithms, versus a chronological feed.

At present, Section 230 specifically protects platforms against illegal content being shared on their platforms. The changes seem unlikely to pass, as it isn't clear how the proposal squares with first amendment protections. Lies and even willful misinformation are protected by the first amendment against law creation such as this, and there are decades of legal precedent supporting that viewpoint.

The proposal comes just days after President Biden's accusation that Facebook and other platforms were "killing people" with misinformation. The President later rephrased that comment to say that it isn't Facebook that is killing people, it is the misinformation that is being circulated and amplified by such platforms.

Proposal to Strip 230 Protections From Public Health Crisis Minsinformation by Mike Wuerthele on Scribd

(function() { var scribd = document.createElement("script"); scribd.type = "text/javascript"; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = "https://www.scribd.com/javascripts/embed_code/inject.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();

Read on AppleInsider
«1345

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 94
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,077member
    About time! It’s ridiculous what outrageously unscientific crap is disseminated about health related topics online.
    The anti-vaxxer crap is only a small part of it.

    It’s ludicrous that companies like Apple must go through all sorts of regulatory hurdles just to be able to offer some health data monitoring on a watch, while companies like Facebook aid and abet to large profits the spread of deadly health disinformation.
    SisterMary90jony0thtmattinozwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 94
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,671member
    rcfa said:
    About time! It’s ridiculous what outrageously unscientific crap is disseminated about health related topics online.
    The anti-vaxxer crap is only a small part of it.

    It’s ludicrous that companies like Apple must go through all sorts of regulatory hurdles just to be able to offer some health data monitoring on a watch, while companies like Facebook aid and abet to large profits the spread of deadly health disinformation.
    Yeah, let’s have the government further police what’s shared online.  Great idea.  
    beowulfschmidtlkrupprinosaurandrewj5790OctoMonkeysmalm
  • Reply 3 of 94
    peterhartpeterhart Posts: 131member
    How would it be possible to catch every post shared with misinformation by every user, whether actually uneducated or purposely wanting to do harm to others? 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 94
    amar99amar99 Posts: 87member
    Ministry of Truth at work.
    rinosaurrockawtechconcOctoMonkeyapplejakessmalmFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 5 of 94
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,270member
    sdw2001 said:
    rcfa said:
    About time! It’s ridiculous what outrageously unscientific crap is disseminated about health related topics online.
    The anti-vaxxer crap is only a small part of it.

    It’s ludicrous that companies like Apple must go through all sorts of regulatory hurdles just to be able to offer some health data monitoring on a watch, while companies like Facebook aid and abet to large profits the spread of deadly health disinformation.
    Yeah, let’s have the government further police what’s shared online.  Great idea.  

    It kind of is a great idea.
    Currently we have both internal and foreign bad-actors hiding behind America's Free Speech laws to spread disinformation for free using social media.   The only thing "free" about that speech is its cost.

    The result is, among other things:  conspiracy theories, overturned elections, radicalization and creation of domestic terrorists, loss of confidence in America, its democracy and its leadership and 600,000+ dead Americans.

    Just as you are not allowed to yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theater there needs to be oversight in how social media is used by bad actors to spread the disinformation that is taking our country down.  While it is not only social media spreading disinformation, social media gives disinformation a megaphone. And, right now, its running out of control.
    mwhiteSisterMary90JinTechjony0tht
  • Reply 6 of 94
    peterhart said:
    How would it be possible to catch every post shared with misinformation by every user, whether actually uneducated or purposely wanting to do harm to others? 
    Per the article, it's specific to algorithms used by social media companies. IMO, it sounds like the liability would kick in if the algorithms are pushing the misinformation across the platform, which is different than an individual user posting misinformation on the platform that requires other users to individually seek it out rather than have it pushed to them. 
    thtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 94
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,462member
    It’s scary to think there are people who believe the government has the right and ability to decide what is misinformation and what is not. The old “Camel’s nose under the tent” saying comes to mind. What if the government determines, for example, that religious doctrine is misinformation and anti-science regarding abortion, marriage, morality, etc? Could the government fine Facebook for allowing the Bible on its platform? The Bible is at times violent and goes against most of today’s liberal philosophies.

    But even the truth can be manipulated. The news media is now reporting about breakthrough infections, side effects, etc. that are being used by the conspiracy theorists to claim the vaccines are useless.
    edited July 23 andrewj5790sdw2001
  • Reply 8 of 94
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,646member
    Why don’t we start with making members of Congress liable for spreading misinformation  and obvious lying. Be an example before going after others. Or is it the typical "do as I say not as I do"?
    edited July 23 dm3JinTechjony0gatorguyapplejakesroundaboutnowFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 9 of 94
    amar99 said:
    Ministry of Truth at work.
    It is certainly amusing that it’s usually the same people that want “Net Neutrality” with the telecom carriers who also want more censoring of “misinformation.”   

    In short: Telecoms can’t be allowed to prioritize Internet traffic based upon fair market, but the US federal government is allowed to filter what “information” can be shared on the internet.
    edited July 23 andrewj5790sdw2001
  • Reply 10 of 94
    lkrupp said:

    But even the truth can be manipulated. The news media is now reporting about breakthrough infections, side effects, etc. that are being used by the conspiracy theorists to claim the vaccines are useless.
    I think the “conspiracy theorists” would just like to understand what percentage of people who have contracted this new strain were also vaccinated.  That statistic would decide whether those asking the question are “conspiracy theorists” or not. 

    Either it works, or it doesn’t work. And if it doesn’t work, it sounds like we’ll be playing a cat and mouse game between variants and updates vaccines for the rest of our lives.  For a virus that 99.9% of people recover from.  

    Disclaimer: I have nothing against vaccines and have been vaccinated.  
    edited July 23 muthuk_vanalingamandrewj5790
  • Reply 11 of 94
    dm3dm3 Posts: 166member
    Fox News is who they should go after as a 24x7 source of misinformation. Social media is just a conduit for speech. It is dangerous to limit free speech on social media.
    Fox News has "news" in the name and there's a presumption that what they say has some semblance of truth.
    GeorgeBMactht
  • Reply 12 of 94
    Steve HumistonSteve Humiston Posts: 6unconfirmed, member
    lkrupp said:

    But even the truth can be manipulated. The news media is now reporting about breakthrough infections, side effects, etc. that are being used by the conspiracy theorists to claim the vaccines are useless.
    I think the “conspiracy theorists” would just like to understand what percentage of people who have contracted this new strain were also vaccinated.  That statistic would decide whether those asking the question are “conspiracy theorists” or not. 

    Either it works, or it doesn’t work. And if it doesn’t work, it sounds like we’ll be playing a cat and mouse game between variants and updates vaccines for the rest of our lives.  For a virus that 99.9% of people recover from.  

    Disclaimer: I have nothing against vaccines and have been vaccinated.  

    Yeahhhh, no, that's not how vaccines work.. it's not that black and white. Here's the bigger issue: why are people still not vaccinated and allowing the variants to happen? A variant is not the same virus and therefore you might not be as protected against it with the vaccine you already have. Ergo... those that got vaccinated aren't having an issue with the original covid but now have the possibility of dealing with the variant because of "conspiracy theories". In the end, even a variant will not harm a vaccinated person as harshly as it would someone who isn't.... but variants continue to variant.. and eventually, it's not helpful. The questions you are asking have been answered... if you don't understand the answers then ACCEPT that people much smarter than you are trying to help you. If you don't believe them, that's on you.. and that makes you the dangerous conspiracy theorist.
    GeorgeBMactht
  • Reply 13 of 94
    maltzmaltz Posts: 276member
    sdw2001 said:
    rcfa said:
    About time! It’s ridiculous what outrageously unscientific crap is disseminated about health related topics online.
    The anti-vaxxer crap is only a small part of it.

    It’s ludicrous that companies like Apple must go through all sorts of regulatory hurdles just to be able to offer some health data monitoring on a watch, while companies like Facebook aid and abet to large profits the spread of deadly health disinformation.
    Yeah, let’s have the government further police what’s shared online.  Great idea.  

    It kind of is a great idea.
    Currently we have both internal and foreign bad-actors hiding behind America's Free Speech laws to spread disinformation for free using social media.   The only thing "free" about that speech is its cost.

    The result is, among other things:  conspiracy theories, overturned elections, radicalization and creation of domestic terrorists, loss of confidence in America, its democracy and its leadership and 600,000+ dead Americans.

    Just as you are not allowed to yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theater there needs to be oversight in how social media is used by bad actors to spread the disinformation that is taking our country down.  While it is not only social media spreading disinformation, social media gives disinformation a megaphone. And, right now, its running out of control.

    No it is **NOT** a great idea!  The government having a say in what is "acceptable" or "true" speech... we've seen where that leads, and it is NOT GOOD - way worse than anything we're dealing with now.  It's alluring in a "think of the children" kind of way, but that is not how it turns out, long term.  Sometimes even short term.  Think of it this way:  would you want rules like that in effect when another Trump gets elected?  It's bound to happen sooner or later.  The primary goal of our representative democracy is to be resistant to individuals and even government institutions making power grabs.  A rule like this is definitely going in the opposite direction.  In any case, this is so obviously unconstitutional, it'll never go anywhere.  Even if it passes, it'll get struck down instantly.

    Mind you, that isn't to say that foreign bad actors aren't a HUGE problem.  It's hard to say how much of the division in this country it's responsible for, but I'd wager it's a lot.  They're hammering society's cracks as hard and as often as they can, and are demonizing BOTH sides against the other.  The best way to resist that is to try to really understand why the other side believes the way they do.  Obviously there are exceptions, but for the most part, it's not because they're hicks/morons/SJWs/racist/snowflakes/etc or what ever other stereotype is in your head about the "other side".  Despite what foreign meddlers, and even many of our own politicians wanting to keep you in the fold, would have you believe, our deep-down core values as a nation aren't as disparate as one might think.
  • Reply 14 of 94
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,671member
    sdw2001 said:
    rcfa said:
    About time! It’s ridiculous what outrageously unscientific crap is disseminated about health related topics online.
    The anti-vaxxer crap is only a small part of it.

    It’s ludicrous that companies like Apple must go through all sorts of regulatory hurdles just to be able to offer some health data monitoring on a watch, while companies like Facebook aid and abet to large profits the spread of deadly health disinformation.
    Yeah, let’s have the government further police what’s shared online.  Great idea.  

    It kind of is a great idea.
    Currently we have both internal and foreign bad-actors hiding behind America's Free Speech laws to spread disinformation for free using social media.   The only thing "free" about that speech is its cost.

    The result is, among other things:  conspiracy theories, overturned elections, radicalization and creation of domestic terrorists, loss of confidence in America, its democracy and its leadership and 600,000+ dead Americans.

    Just as you are not allowed to yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theater there needs to be oversight in how social media is used by bad actors to spread the disinformation that is taking our country down.  While it is not only social media spreading disinformation, social media gives disinformation a megaphone. And, right now, its running out of control.
    This is exactly the kind of thinking that leads to tyranny.  It reads like a Dem party talking points memo.  It’s honestly terrifying and depressing that you think like this.   
    OctoMonkey
  • Reply 15 of 94
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    rob53 said:
    Why don’t we start with making members of Congress liable for spreading misinformation  and obvious lying. Be an example before going after others. Or is it the typical "do as I say not as I do"?

    Very good point.

    Let's start with the ones who've had the vaccine and are encouraging stupid people not to take it.
    edited July 23 jony0thtFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 16 of 94
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,671member
    dm3 said:
    Fox News is who they should go after as a 24x7 source of misinformation. Social media is just a conduit for speech. It is dangerous to limit free speech on social media.
    Fox News has "news" in the name and there's a presumption that what they say has some semblance of truth.
    LOL.  But CNN, MSNBC, the NYT, WaPo, ABC, NBC, CBS and the rest of the media literally making things up for four years is OK.  
    lkruppOctoMonkey
  • Reply 17 of 94
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 911member
    While they’re at it, how about making it illegal for spreading political misinformation. 
    thtapplejakes
  • Reply 18 of 94
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,462member
    dm3 said:
    Fox News is who they should go after as a 24x7 source of misinformation. Social media is just a conduit for speech. It is dangerous to limit free speech on social media.
    Fox News has "news" in the name and there's a presumption that what they say has some semblance of truth.
    Oh, but YOUR favorite news sites like CNN, MSNBC, etc. are as pure as the new driven snow when it comes to unbiased reporting. Do you actually believe the tripe you are spewing? 
    edited July 23 OctoMonkey
  • Reply 19 of 94
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 911member
    sdw2001 said:
    dm3 said:
    LOL.  But CNN, MSNBC, the NYT, WaPo, ABC, NBC, CBS and the rest of the media literally making things up for four years is OK.  


    I don’t watch the news. But the fact of the matter is that there are clearly deniers of the current pandemic. It here. It’s a real thing. If it weren’t, the global medical community wouldn’t be working tirelessly to find a vaccination for it. 

    Little babies who don’t get their way are the ones claiming it isn’t real. Put your big boy pants on and start taking some personal responsibility. The world won’t change for you. You have to change for the world. Otherwise, you will be angry and miserable for the rest of your life. 
    tht
  • Reply 20 of 94
    techconctechconc Posts: 174member
    amar99 said:
    Ministry of Truth at work.
    Exactly.  The government shouldn't play a role in this.  This is a slippery slope.  Who becomes the arbiter of truth, especially over opinions?  If we're talking about a "news" site, then fine... hold formal news sites as liable for misinformation.  However, this is social media... where people come to express their opinions, etc.

    1. The government should not be involved with this.

    2. Social media sites shouldn't attempt to be the arbiter of truth either.  Let free speech happen with the exception of #3 (below)

    3. Social media sites should conduct only light moderation.  It's fair to remove blatantly obvious hate speech and posting of things like trade secrets or copyrighted material should be removed.  Beyond that, let people post what they want. 
    edited July 23 OctoMonkeyapplejakes
Sign In or Register to comment.