On November 12, 2020, Le Monde shared the report published by the Forum for Information and Democracy, in which we find serious ways to try to regulate social networks. The result of long work initiated by Reporters Without Borders in 2018 and supported by nearly forty governments.
Regulation of infodemia is essential today
While Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is to be amended in the United States, the Forum for Information and Democracy published a report a few days ago aimed at regulating “infodemy”. that we are faced on the major digital platforms. A 132-page document, particularly dense and complete, divided into four main chapters, in which we find ways for more transparency, moderation of content or even suggestions for improving the messaging services for social networks.
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These recommendations are sometimes innovative and join the growing desire of states around the world to regulate social networks. A new global legal and ethical framework could emerge from this report. We may be experiencing a turning point in social media history. Among the main reforms proposed in this text we find a proposal to set up a “public and universal database on advertising”. Specifically, this would mean that experts would be responsible for regulating the functioning of algorithms for social networks.
Included without violating the principle of freedom of expression
Such initiatives are already emerging in some countries. This is the case in France as the law against online hatred was passed by the National Assembly a few months ago. This law obliges social networks to react in less than 24 hours to remove “illegal content” and in certain cases in less than an hour … The text proposed to the Paris Peace Forum recalls that the fact of regulation does not mean the basic principles disregard freedom of expression. This means: “The removal of accounts and content related to terrorism should be subject to judicial review.”
Can we still hope to see certain content randomly in our news feeds? No today, but the report recommends avoiding “ghettoization”. It seems necessary to set up “digital circuit breakers” precisely in order not to be overwhelmed with the same content all day. Finally, a word about messaging apps. Your role in disinformation is very strong. For example, the report suggests limiting group size and the number of automated robots driving fake news. In short, as you will understand, the authors of this report want more transparency and moderation on the Internet: “a necessary condition for developing a new balance”.