Social Media: Misinformation and Content Moderation Issues for Congress [January 27, 2021]   [open pdf - 1MB]

From the Summary: "Some Members of Congress are concerned about the spread of misinformation (i.e., incorrect or inaccurate information) on social media platforms and are exploring how it can be addressed by companies that operate social media sites. Other Members are concerned that social media operators' content moderation practices may suppress speech. Both perspectives have focused on Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. §230), enacted as part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which broadly protects operators of 'interactive computer services' from liability for publishing, removing, or restricting access to another's content. [...] Social media operators may moderate the content posted on their sites by allowing certain posts and not others. [...] However, operators' content moderation practices have created unease that these companies play an outsized role in determining what speech is allowed on their sites, with some commentators stating that operators are infringing on users' First Amendment rights by censoring speech. [...] Congress may wish to consider the roles of the public and private sector in addressing misinformation, including who defines what constitutes misinformation. If Congress determines that action to address the spread of misinformation through social media is necessary, its options may be limited by the reality that regulation, policies, or incentives to affect one category of information may affect others. Congress may consider the First Amendment implications of potential legislative actions. Any effort to address this issue may have unintended legal, social, and economic consequences that may be difficult to foresee."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R46662
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/
Media Type:
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Listed on February 24, 2021 [Critical Releases]