Circle ID: A Case for Regulating Social Media Platforms

There are some who see the regulation of social media platforms as an attack on the open internet and free speech and argue that the way to protect that is to let those platforms continue to self-regulate. While it is true that the open internet is the product of the same freedom to innovate that the platforms have sprung from, it is equally the product of the cooperative, multi-stakeholder organisations where common policy and norms are agreed.

Read article.

Republique Francaise: A Framework to Make Social Media Platforms More Accountable

The French government is among the long list of countries who are implementing a program to address issues associated with social media.

The second pillar of their program is a:

A prescriptive regulation focusing on the accountability of social networks, implemented by an independent administrative authority and based on three obligations for the platforms:
· Obligation of transparency of the function of ordering content,
· Obligation of transparency of the function which implements the Terms of Service and the moderation of content,
· Obligation to defend the integrity of its users.

Read French Framework for Social Media Platforms

The Editor: Will Regulation of the Social Media Maim the US High Tech Industry?

In the very short period of time that CRE has established an interactive public docket which addresses possible US regulation of the social media two dominant concerns have been raised both in the literature and on the basis of first-hand discussions with stakeholders:

(1) how do you address First Amendment Issues, and

(2)  will mission creep maim the US high tech industry?

Question (1) is self-explanatory.

Question (2) is raised in terms of mission creep; the ability of regulators to continually expand upon their initial mandate.  Mission creep not only results from the promulgation of regulations but in a myriad of guidance documents.

The Editor: CRE Letter to NTIA

CRE routinely works with federal agencies regarding the improvement of their regulatory programs. In this memorandum to NTIA we have asked  them to become involved in the potential regulation of the social media.

The Editor: What is the operational sequence for examining the possible regulation of social media?

Any number of tasks could be initiated including, technical viability, First Amendment issues, digital impersonation and content control. In any event the National Institute of Standards and Technology should be tasked immediately to assess the technical viability of regulating social media.

National Institute of Standards and Technology

The Editor: Where is the US review of ongoing programs in other countries to implement a program to regulate social media?

A number of other countries including the UK, Germany and Australia either have an ongoing program or a soon to be implemented program to regulate social media. Which federal agencies are following these real world laboratories so as to assist the US in the directions it might follow.

Thus far CRE’s inquiry concludes that the Administration is leaving such studies up to academics, NGO’s and regulatory watchdogs such as CRE.

The Editor: The Use of Guidance or Rules to Address Issues with Social Media?

     The guidance debate is moving from 30,000 feet to ground level

 

Scholars in administrative law have written on the differences between an agency issuing guidance versus rules for years.  There is no clearer statement on the subject than a recent post by Professor Strauss based in part upon a study conducted by the Administrative Conference of the United States authored by Professor Parrillo.

Forbes: Governments Can’t Regulate Social Media Because They Are Too Dependent On It

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the strange spectacle that was Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony last year was the degree to which members of the US Congress kept acknowledging Facebook’s immense sway over the democratic process and how important the site was to each of their reelection efforts. Congressperson after congressperson repeated how critical Facebook was to getting themselves elected and maintaining contact with their constituents.

 

Read article

USA Today: Trump White House solicits examples of social media censorship

Editor’s Note:  Read about a potential Data Quality Act challenge.

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has repeatedly complained that the nation’s largest social media sites are censoring conservative voices.

Now the White House is looking for proof.

Trump administration officials posted a website on Wednesday that seeks examples of Americans being censored on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube.

Read Post.

The Editor:  Where are the US Regulators on Regulation of Social Media?

The recent flurry of events as set forth in the posts below demonstrate the concentrated actions of a number of leading foreign governments regarding regulation of the social media. What are the views of US regulators on this topic?

We would imagine that the American public is asking the same question.  Understandably it is not as easy for the US  to come to a unified position because its regulatory regime is fragmented by the existence of two independent agencies. Nonetheless it behooves an oversight agency such as the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs located in the White House Office of Management and Budget  to focus on this issue.