Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Facebook Now Says it is "Responsible" for Content on its Site

Facebook and Google often have claimed they are not media companies and do not exercise editorial control over content their users post. Now Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO says the firm is responsible for user content, and therefore Facebook is a media company.

That is a change, and a change that will change the way Google and Facebook have to operate in the future, as both firms will likely have to spend more time and money exercising editorial control.

There are lots of issues here, including the thorny issue of how to ensure that neither platform is acting as a content censor of lawful and protected speech, even as both might act to better police language or content that is not protected speech.

Up to this point, none of the ad-supported platforms with scale (Google, Facebook, Twitter) have done an outstanding job promoting protected speech, while acting more directly to ensure some semblance of fairness and accuracy.

Ironically, as technology services and apps traditionally have been virtually always unregulated, a shift to “media” regulation, though carrying new responsibilities still will allow Facebook and others to claim the same editorial freedoms as do newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations or other content networks.

Those who want to apply heavy-handed regulations on Facebook and others now will have to contend with the fact of First Amendment protection. That might carry with it responsibilities greater than Facebook and others have faced as providers of data services (no regulation), but also protects Facebook from more-intrusive forms of content regulation.

That does not mean Facebook and others cannot implement community standards, in the same way that broadcast TV voluntary complies with some standards relating to speech and other restraints on content.

This a matter quite separate from other calls to apply antitrust to such firms as Facebook, Google, Apple or Amazon.

No comments: