Open Journal Systems

House lawmakers reintroduce bipartisan bill to weed out foreign disinformation on social media

Democratic congresswoman Abigail Spanberger and Republican congressman John Katko reintroduced the Foreign Agent Disclaimer Enhancement (FADE) Act to the U.S. House of Representatives on January 22, 2021. The purpose of the bill is to prevent the spread of misinformation and propaganda from foreign countries. If enacted, the FADE Act will require each political post funded by any foreign agent on social media to have a disclaimer; otherwise, the social media company will have to remove the post. Additionally, the bill will also require those social media posts or ads to be notified to the Department of Justice if they are to influence American social media users.

France’s Macron Calls for Regulation of Social Media to Stem ‘Threat to Democracy’

Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, advocated for international social media regulation to preserve Western democracies from extremism after the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2020. Viewing the episode as a threat to democracies, President Macron blamed social media companies for allowing extremism to grow on their platforms and for taking action only when it was too late. President Macron said France had also suffered from similar violent incidents, pointing to the yellow-vest movement and religious extremists as examples and to social media’s role in them. For this reason, President Macron believed that the international community should regulate social media as the world can no longer trust these platforms to act in the interest of Western democracy.

Apple's Tim Cook criticizes social media practices, intensifying Facebook conflict

The tech giant Apple's Tim Cook criticized social media apps for gathering too much personal information from users, prioritizing "conspiracy theories and violent incitement" just for more engagements on their platforms, and impairing public confidence in Covid-19 vaccines. Although Tim Cook did not name names, the tension between Facebook and Apple were apparent. Apple is preparing to roll out a function allowing users to block targeted ads. In response, Facebook criticized Apple for using its market power via the App Store for its own benefits because Apple also sells apps and conducts digital ad business.

Analysis: GameStop's 'Reddit rally' puts scrutiny on social media forums

Users belonging to a Reddit group of about 5 million people made substantial profits by purchasing GameStop's shares following its short sale by private hedge funds. While being praised for their victory against the hedge funds, these social media users were also criticized for manipulating the stock market by inflating shares of weak companies. This incident has shed light on how investors have been using social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Telegram, to trade tips for years. Although these social media companies' user agreements generally prohibit content concerning illegal activities, such as gun and drug transactions, it is not clear that such stock market forum would be against their policies. The infamous safe-harbor provision of Section 230 may still subject the social media companies to liabilities for users' content (e.g., a federal crime). However, the threshold to find such liability is very high. Subjecting the users or the social media to liabilities under the current legal framework in this case is generally considered somewhat in the gray area.  

Downdetector: Social Media Platform Reddit Hit by Outages in US

After the GameStop rally event, the social media company Reddit was encountering technical problems on its website this Saturday. Reddit users in some regions were having logging and messaging difficulties on the platform. The affected areas were New York, Boston, Washington, and Toronto. The cause of the issues was still unknown. 

Social media stocks dip amid GameStop-Reddit frenzy. Why two top names could fall further

The social media industry is under the spotlight after the GameSpot occurrence on Reddit. Facebook's and Twitter's stocks are falling as a consequence and are believed to keep dropping. The reason for this development could be that a stricter regulatory oversight over social media platforms is more plausible now than before. Between these two leading social media companies, it is viewed that Facebook is likely to suffer more decline in stock value than Twitter.