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What’s Behind Facebook’s Libra and What We Should Be Concerned About

By this time you may have already read about Libra, Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency, and all the fuss about its relation to Facebook. Many questions have been coming up: Is Libra a payment instrument? Who is behind it? Why should we trust Facebook? Moreover, the European Union may be already investigating a potential anticompetitive behavior related to Libra. Although […]

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Keeping Thumbs Off the Scale: Nondiscrimination on Digital Platforms

In a recent podcast episode, economist Luigi Zingales related a joke familiar in tech circles: “Why did it take police years to find the body?” “It was buried on page two of Google’s search results!” The witticism rings all too true to internet users. We know that our likelihood of selecting a digital pathway is based […]

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Could the FCC Regulate Social Media Under Section 230? No.

Last week, Politico reported that the White House was considering a potential “Executive Order” (EO) to address the ongoing-yet-unproven allegations of pro-liberal, anti-conservative bias by giant Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google. (To the extent that there is rigorous research by AI experts, it shows that social media sites are more likely to flag posts by self-identified African Americans as “hate speech” than identical wording used by whites.) Subsequent reports by CNN and The Verge have provided more detail. Putting the two together, it appears that the Executive Order would require the Federal Communications Commission to create regulations designed to create rules limiting the ability of digital platforms to “remove or suppress content” as well as prohibit “anticompetitive, unfair or deceptive” practices around content moderation. The EO would also require the Federal Trade Commission to somehow open a docket and take complaints (something it does not, at present, do, or have capacity to do – but I will save that hobby horse for another time) about supposed political bias claims.

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Viewpoint Diversity Requires Media Policy, Not Editorial Regulation

Many conservatives feel that major online platforms discriminate against them. But their proposed policy solutions, which usually involve modifications to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, cannot have the effect that they want. However, policies adapted from traditional media policy might help ensure that users of all political viewpoints have the ability to freely communicate online.

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How to Go Beyond Section 230 Without Crashing the Internet

The previous post was about what Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act does, and why it does it. One theme is that Section 230 is a very broad and powerful statute. But the law can change, and given that digital platforms have a very different role in society and the economy now than they did in 1996, when the law was passed, maybe it should. This post will list some proposals that I am not necessarily endorsing, but which may be worth considering. But before that, it’s also important to realize that Section 230 has limits even under the law today.

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