The internet, in its early days, was a creative hotbed. The open nature of the world wide web connected audiences and creators. It opened up new ‘democratized’ publishing platforms, and it has given birth to new distribution options for musicians, filmmakers, game designers, and journalists. The speed of the growth of the internet has also in recent years given an array of bad actors to use the platform to transmit fake news, misinformation, hate speech, stalking, and more.
The state of media today has little if any rules or policies to govern it. In the absence of these standard, media platforms have profited mightily, amplifying often objectionable speech at the cost of basic civil norms.
Only two narrow federal tech laws have been enacted in the past 25 years.
One for children’s privacy and the other for ridding sites of sex-trafficking content.
We believe there are two parallel paths to explore, in setting standards for how information is framed, published, and managed in the new connected media world we live in.
We plan to explore and promote both of them, government and industry standards and practices.
1). Government Standards
Washington is awash in proposals for reforming social media, but in a narrowly divided Congress, it’s little surprise that none have passed. Many Democrats believe that social media’s core problem is that dangerous far-right speech is being amplified. Many Republicans believe that the core problem is that the platforms are suppressing conservative political views. The new Senate legislation, which was introduced by two Democrats, Chris Coons and Amy Klobuchar, and a Republican, Rob Portman, may have a path toward passage because it doesn’t require taking a side in that argument.
Brandon Silverman: fmr: Facebook Executive “What’s happening right now, though, is that a few private companies are disseminating a massive amount of the world’s news and it’s largely happening inside black boxes. I think figuring out ways to both help and, in some cases, force, large platforms to be more transparent with news and civic content as it’s in the process of being disseminated can ultimately help make social platforms better homes for public discourse — and in a lot of ways, help them live up to a lot of their original promise.”
Mr. Silverman had been instrumental in shaping the section of the legislation that would authorize the Federal Trade Commission to force platforms to disclose, in real-time, what information is spreading on them. The provision is part of a bill more broadly aimed at letting academic researchers conduct independent studies into the inner workings of the platforms and their social effects. As written, the legislation would apply to Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and Snap — and would probably, a Senate aide said, also extend to Amazon.
Laura Edelson, a Ph.D. candidate in computer science at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering who studies misinformation on Facebook, said she had gone into the project thinking that she would simply confirm liberal concerns that right-wing content gets more engagement and promotion. But she said that she also found a “very high false positive rate for content being flagged, so conservatives probably are experiencing content being taken down incorrectly, while it’s also true that right-wing misinformation goes viral on Facebook.” Her project ended when Facebook disabled her account. The new legislation, she said, would be a “game-changer.”
Among the US laws under consideration:
H.R.83 – Protecting Constitutional Rights from Online Platform Censorship Act
S.3764 – Internet Freedom and Operations (INFO) Act of 2022
The SAFE Tech Act – Section 230 reform
And worth considering that European laws are having a meaningful impact on the behaviors of Big Tech in the US, among them –
GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information from individuals who live in the European Union (EU)
DSA The DSA aims to protect internet users by establishing an “unprecedented new standard” for online platforms that will see companies such as Google, Meta (Facebook), and Twitter held accountable for illegal and harmful content.
2). Industry Standards
While government regulation in the US is slow, and the regulation of speech and content is likely to have unintended and potentially dangerous consequences, there is a history of Industry created standards that have had a successful outcome.
While are in the US a number of standards bodies, they tend to cover portions of media (ie: Journalism, or Advertising) but don’t at this point connect the elements of the ecosystem that create, monetize, and distribute media. This creates a gap that makes impactful standards hard to implement.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI /ˈænsi/ AN-see) is a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards for products, services, processes, systems, and personnel in the United States.
The IEEE standards development process is rooted in consensus, due process, openness, right to appeal and balance. It adheres to and supports the principles and requirements of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations.
Revenue and spend reports from IAB are the industry benchmark for the health of the digital advertising ecosystem. The results reported are considered the most accurate measurement of internet advertising revenues since the data is compiled directly from information supplied by companies selling advertising online.
As media is a multi-faceted collection of makers, technologies, and outputs, no single law, or standard is going to create a framework that balances free speech, manages harms, and limits the amplification of known misinformation. This creates an opportunity for the CSM to engage in standard exploration across boundries.