Georgia state government seeks to balance its rhetoric on social media | national news
ATLANTA – What should be the balance between the free speech rights of large social media companies and those of people who use their platforms, and should the Georgia legislature create rules to achieve this balance?
This is what members of the House Science and Technology Committee wanted to know as they discussed the idea of ââtech censorship in a recent hearing, following another meeting on the controversial topic. in May. Committee assesses whether to recommend legislation to the 2022 General Assembly
The issue has gained increasing attention in recent months after former President Trump and other conservatives claimed that big companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google were censoring right-wing discourse. Last week, Trump announced a class action lawsuit against the companies and their CEOs after platforms imposed bans on him and others.
But as social media becomes more and more vital for conducting business and running for office, all Georgians should be interested in ensuring that sites don’t ban people for political ideas, Allum Bokhari said. , journalist for the right-wing media outlet Breitbart and author. of “#DLETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Wipe Out the Trump Movement and Steal the Elections.”
âDespite the fact that in some cases all people’s livelihoods may depend on having access to a social media platform, small business owners, publishers and independent content creators currently do not have virtually no recourse under the law if the content moderator decides to ban them, âBokhari mentioned. âSo you have people who have spent entire years of their lives putting effort and resources and sometimes financial capital into building an online presence, and yet they have no recourse if a large company technology decides to take it all away. “
Bokhari said he was in favor of expanding Google’s approach with its SafeSearch program which allows users to filter out explicit or violent content. Users should also be able to decide whether they want to see questionable political speeches or conspiracy theories, he said.
“It baffles me that they are using this kind of technology for obscenity, but the filters on the so-called disinformation and the so-called non-authoritative information, you can’t get away from it,” he said. he declares.
An attempt to ban social media companies from regulating what posts users see would fail the constitutional rally – a federal judge recently blocked a Florida law aimed at protecting the conservative rhetoric of social media companies based on the first amendment.
The First Amendment applies to government censorship and protects the public’s rights to speak, pray and assemble in protest against government action, said Richard T. Griffiths, chairman emeritus of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation .
“But websites like Twitter or Facebook are private companies, and private companies are not subject to the disciplines of the First Amendment, where anyone can say anything on their platform,” he said. he declares. “They have the right, as private entities, to make rules about what they see fit in their worlds.”
Still, there might be other ways for governments to target big tech companies, said Professor Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago School of Business.
When dealing with a business with users who harm a third party or create unintended consequences, governments can respond with taxes, he said.
âThe social media advertising-based business model is one that produces a huge set of externalities, from loss of data privacy to addiction to negative political polarization, so it’s only fair to think about the taxation, “he said. âAnd it’s something that can be done locally, you (can) tax all the ads that are seen by people in Georgia. This is being done by Maryland, and it can be done as a measure itself, or as a push to get something that maybe at the state level you can’t get but you care enough about. create pressure to do so at the federal level.
But regulating successful businesses would defy the conservative principles these regulations are designed to protect, said Carl Szabo, general counsel for NetChoice, an industry group whose members include Amazon, Facebook, Google, TikTok and Twitter.
“I’m an original, and that’s kind of why I’m so attached to some of the things we see online that raise concerns for me as a curator when I see people getting fired.” , people, in quotes, misplatform or blackballed or as we want to call it today, âhe said. “But the other side of me, the original and conservative side, says, but that flies in the face of the idea that private companies can be the arbiter of what’s best for their users and their advertisers.”
Szabo rebuffed the idea that platforms target conservative discourse, arguing that left-wing content creators complain that their speech is censored as well.
The job of determining which posts to block is difficult, especially for large sites – an average of 6,000 tweets are sent every second, according to Internet Live Stats – and censors must filter out content ranging from illegal, such as child pornography. and threats. from violence, to disgusting, such as racism or graphic images. In recent months, social media lies about COVID-19 masks and vaccines have led some to worry about the spread of misinformation that is costing lives.
Acworth Republican Representative Ed Setzler, who chairs the committee, said he was concerned about reports that Georgians were losing their livelihoods due to bans on social media sites, but he said the committee will take its time before drafting legislation.
“We would do well to dive deep and understand, rather than acting first and deliberating later,” he said. âThere are a number of states that have been active, some might say wisely, some might say recklessly, others might say wisely but hastily, and there might be opinions in between. As you know, our goal as the Committee on Science and Technology is to take advantage of the out-of-session time that we have during the interim, to delve into the issues, to understand the issues, to help frame the issues. problems, so that can inform any efforts that might lead to legislation, or not, as we would consider action in the next legislative session.