Some Think the Time Has Come for Government Regulation of Social Media

December 7, 2017

In this era of fake news and data hacking, some people think it’s time for the government to step in and help. As the stakes get higher, commentators think that we can no longer police ourselves on the internet. This thought was brought up in a recent Bill Moyers piece, “The Facebook Inside Facebook.”

According to the story:

But in the US, it’s time to consider more dramatic measures. Speaking of disclosure, many social scientists outside the company would like Facebook to open up more of its data — for one reason among others, to understand how their algorithms work. There are those in the company who say they would respond reasonably if reformers and researchers got specific about what data they want to see. What specifically should they ask?

 

Should there be, along British lines, a centrally appointed regulatory board? Since 2003, the UK has had an Office of Communications with regulatory powers. Its board is appointed by a Cabinet minister.

This is an interesting prospect. Perhaps an FCC-style regulatory commission could help weed out all the quirks that make social media potentially dangerous. Even Mark Zuckerberg’s mentor thinks the time has come. However, all of this would require Facebook to open up their algorithms to outside eyes and, as anyone remotely interested in social media knows, those codes are the company’s bread and butter. We think it’ll be a snowy day in Death Valley before Silicon Valley welcomes oversight.

Patrick Roland, December 7, 2017

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