California signs social media terms of service disclosure law

[…] AB 587 requires social media companies to post their terms of service online, as well as submit a twice-yearly report to the state attorney general. The report must include details about whether the platform defines and moderates several categories of content, including “hate speech or racism,” “extremism or radicalization,” “disinformation or misinformation,” harassment, and “foreign political interference.” It must also offer details about automated content moderation, how many times people viewed content that was flagged for removal, and how the flagged content was handled. It’s one of several recent California plans to regulate social media, also including AB 2273, which is intended to tighten regulations for children’s social media use.

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Courts haven’t necessarily concluded that the First Amendment blocks social media transparency rules. But the rules still raise red flags. Depending on how they’re defined, they could require companies to disclose unpublished rules that help bad actors game the system. And the bill singles out specific categories of “awful but lawful” content — like racism and misinformation — that’s harmful but often constitutionally protected, potentially putting a thumb on the speech scale.

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Source: California Governor Gavin Newsom signs social media transparency law – The Verge

This is important because not only on social media but also on email or marketplace sites, individuals are at the mercy of the system. If you have no idea what the rules are of the system (and notice – this law has no mention of forcing a platform to publish their recourse rules) then you enter a Kafka-esque experience if you are booted. You don’t know the reason or if the reason is arbitrary or you are being targetted. This is a start on transparency and fairness. Considering much of our lives is lived on social media nowadays and a huge amount of trade is done online, you can’t trust a corporation to play fair, especially if you don’t know their rulebook.

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