Enough about Elon Musk’s Twitter deal. It’s time to talk about social media reform
While those of us in the media have been chasing Musk’s mercurial tweets, we have been distracted from the burning need for a serious, thoughtful, society-wide, grownup discussion about reform of social media, particularly as it involves government regulation and the First Amendment.
Yet almost nothing has been done about it.
Musk’s arrival last month at centerstage in the debate about social media regulation has mainly led to more heat and volume and far less light and clarity as his tweets and personality became the focus of media coverage and social media conversation rather than the issue of how we as a nation are going to make social media serve democracy rather than become part of a force that could destroy it.
Even as Musk pledged a far more hands-off policy on enforcement when it comes to banning figures like Trump, he asserted last week that he is “on the same page” with the European Union’s new code of content moderation, which aims for stricter policing of disinformation. Really? It is hard to know where he really stands — when he is being serious or when he is trolling. Or when, perhaps, it seems as if he might just want to see how huge a reaction one of his tweets can get, like the one on Friday that initially sent the price of Twitter shares tumbling 13 percent.
In recent weeks, Musk has largely controlled the conversation about social media with his tweets and public comments, siphoning off attention from a deeper discussion about reform, moderation and the First Amendment.
Serious reform proposals are being offered.
As former chair of the Federal Communications Commission under Obama and president and CEO of the National Cable Television Association, Wheeler has extensive experience in the realpolitik of government and media regulation.
He is proposing a new government agency that “has digital in its DNA” rather than one that “tries to bolt new responsibilities onto analog era agencies,” he said in an interview last week.
The idea is for that agency to try to facilitate a conversation among providers, consumers and the government on a set of “behavioral standards” for the tech companies.
“How that would work would by an enforceable code of conduct” for the tech providers that says, ‘This is how we agree to behave,'” Wheeler explained. The new agency would enforce that behavior.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) introduced a bill Thursday to create such an agency. It demands serious coverage and discussion even if we think the divided Senate will never pass it. The Digital Platform Commission Act would create a five-member body of commissioners selected by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
Most other proposals involve changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. One of the things this law does is absolve online platforms of responsibility for the speech of their users.
Obama, who focused in a speech last month on the dangers of misinformation and disinformation, suggested that the law be changed to require more curating of content including ads. But while some Democrats believe there is not enough gatekeeping on the sites, some Republicans believe there is too much and that it is biased against their voices. Finding enough consensus in Congress for action is a tall order.
But such bill proposals, as well as the new standards of regulation from the European Union, deserve more study, discussion and debate — all of which mainstream media can provide through its agenda setting powers.
More of that, and less celebrity style chatter about Musk. A month is more than enough to be distracted by him. The midterms are almost upon us, and you can bet social media will again play a role with misinformation, disinformation and lies.
Quoted from Various Sources
Published for: 533Soft