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Should Social Networks Lose Their Legal Protection Against Lawsuits? | Voice Of America

The decision by the social media giants to further moderate content, along with the veto of President Donald Trump and some of his supporters who can no longer post, is intensifying a debate in Europe about how to regulate platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The fiery debate has focused primarily on whether governments should step in to censor or protect free speech, or whether opinions should be protected from being blocked or removed by tech giants, no matter how offensive the opinions are. Facebook does not plan to lift Trump’s ban The Facebook executive said the company was on the lookout for other possible armed protests that are being planned for Washington, DC and in all 50 US state capitals in the run-up to the president’s inauguration. elected Joe Biden on January 20, the FBI has warned. But a growing number of European leaders see a third way to reduce fake news, hate speech, misinformation and poisonous personal attacks, by treating social media as providers and not as owners of neutral platforms that connect consumers. with digital content creators, but as publishers in their own right. This would help reduce fears of state censorship of free speech, they say. Amending the laws to hold them legally responsible, just as newspapers and other traditional media are held accountable for the content they post, would make social media companies liable for libel and slander lawsuits. By blocking content and banning some users, social media companies have inadvertently strengthened the argument that they are content providers, just as they are now taking a bigger role as opinion editors. “I think there is a real debate about the status of the big internet companies and whether they should be identified as simple platforms or as publishers, because when you start to editorialize, then you are in a different world,” the prime minister told a parliamentary committee. Brit, Boris Johnson, last week. Twitter permanently suspends Donald Trump’s account The social platform argued that it had already warned Trump for the messages issued after the disturbances in the Capitol. Many European Union leaders have criticized social media companies for suppressing Trump and his followers from their platforms. Facebook has blocked or removed content that uses the phrase “Stop the theft,” which refers to false allegations of voter fraud. Twitter says it has suspended more than 70,000 accounts of QAnon conspiracy theorists who believe Trump is waging a secret war against an elite of Satanists and pedophiles in government, the private sector and the media. German President Angela Merkel expressed concern about blocking and deleting content, saying it was excessive. “The right to freedom of opinion is of fundamental importance,” its spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, told reporters. Some countries run by populist governments, such as Poland, are considering drafting legislation that would prohibit Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies from censoring opinions, fearing they will censor them. Social media and media But political pressure is also increasing in other countries for the state to regulate freedom of expression and to moderate social media platforms. The idea that social media companies should be subject to regulations similar to those of the press, radio or television is not new. Newspaper owners have been outraged that social media platforms are treated differently under the law than traditional media. Twitter prohibits false claims about vaccines for COVID-19 The measure seeks to sensitize users regarding protection against the virus and not to disseminate unverified information about the vaccination process in the world. Last year, Facebook rejected the idea that social media platforms are treated like traditional media, arguing in a report that they should be placed in a category halfway between newspapers and the telecommunications industry. The company agreed that new regulatory rules are necessary, but argued that they should focus on monitoring and mechanisms that companies would put in place to block “harmful” posts, rather than restrictions on companies posting certain types of speeches. or that they are held responsible for the content. Johnson’s lobbying for social media giants to be treated as traditional media is having an echo in the United States, where Congress passed the Communications Decency Act in 1996. This measure allowed companies to regulate themselves and protected them from being held accountable for most of the content posted on their platforms. Parler, a new social network for conservatives disgruntled with Twitter and Facebook The Parler platform is attracting masses of disgruntled conservatives with the fact that Twitter and Facebook block their posts if they speak of electoral fraud or mention false or unverified data. Section 230 of the law says: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as a publisher or broadcaster of any information published by another information content provider.” Ironically, Section 230 has drawn disapproval from both Trump and President-elect Joe Biden. Both have called for that article to be annulled, which would make social media legally responsible for what people post, leaving them vulnerable to libel and slander lawsuits. Last week, Biden told The New York Times that he favored the shield that protects Internet companies to be “revoked, immediately.”


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