A New York state senator wants to punish social media companies over "harmful content," and their definition of the phrase extends to any false facts that can be interpreted as endangering public safety. The bill does not provide an understanding as to the basis for making the determination that the information is "false."
The basis of the bill is that social media companies would be forbidden from having content promoted that advocates things like use of force or self-harm, but also anything that "includes a false statement of fact or fraudulent medical theory that is likely to endanger the safety or health of the public."
Democrat Brad Hoylman first introduced S7568 last month. But given the language of the bill he’s talking about it once again — as Capitol riot stories intensify leading up to the one year anniversary of January 6, 2021.
It’s framed as an anti-section 230 proposal designed to punish social media companies for the societal impact of their algorithms. His interpretation is that algorithmic elevation of key pieces of online content is a separate action not covered under the Communications Decency Act.
Per Hoylman’s press release:
"Social media algorithms are specially programmed to spread disinformation and hate speech at the expense of the public good. The prioritization of this type of content has real life costs to public health and safety. So when social media push anti-vaccine falsehoods and help domestic terrorists plan a riot at the U.S. Capitol, they must be held accountable. Our new legislation will force social media companies to be held accountable for the dangers they promote."
The Senator cites Frances Haugen to justify his bill. He believes the findings presented by the Facebook whistleblower last year necessitate this kind of legislative action. Facebook has also said it is in favor of more government restrictions.
In the exact language of S7568 it says that enforcement is possible by the office of the attorney general, on behalf of the people of New York, and the same therein on a local level. In addition, "private rights of action" are permitted by private citizens.