Should Social Media Be Regulated?


Opening Rap

Verse1

Ahn

Yeah

Ahn

Social media, liv in the age

All those tweets, likes and dem double taps

We here now, living through tha screen

For that ounce, and yeah for that double tap

We make gold, for FB and Instagram

Our lives yeah, they sell away

Fuck no, give me my Instagram

I dont care, yeah make your gold

Chorus:

Very soon, I’ll get you fined

O yeah that is my payback

For my soul , that you took away

Now Double tap , Make it rain like rose tap

End Rap

This week as part of our continuing them on Social Media , we discuss if Government should regulate Social Media.

Without regulation, innovation thrives. But so also does the potential for exploitation.

With regulation, innovation dries up. But so also does the potential for exploitation.

The Social media giants have become so powerful that even recently they were accused of holding up the whole country of Australia. The government there asked them to pay media corporations for the the news they share on their platforms. Facebook decided to stop its users from sharing links to news articles and the pages of media houses from sharing any posts. They eventually backtracked but the damage had been done.

Last year, Twitter took the unprecedented step of kicking the US president off their platform. Which they in fact have the right to do – after all it is a platform and platforms have the right to regulate their users. But they have also shown the power they wield over our lives. Further they can no longer claim Section 230 alibi which used to allow them to not be responsible for user content. If you can kick off users for their content, then for sure you cannot claim to not be responsible for the content that is left on your platform.

The Social Media giants have no doubt come to play a central role in the global economy. They employ tens of thousands of people. They also generate revenues in billions of US dollars and of course lucrative tax dollars for their host countries. In fact non-host countries like France have started to bill a tax on Social Media companies for revenues earned targeting people living in their countries.

The age of free-wheeling Social Media companies collecting user data, selling ads without regard to user consent – all of that is now gone. At least since the 2016 elections when Cambridge Analytica was able to build accurate user profiles from Facebook to target very effective ads that swayed that election and Facebook was blamed for enabling foreign agents to spread disinformation on their platforms, social media companies have been placed under more scrutiny.

This has led to them actually self regulating , adding friction to their virality and even trying to make their products less addictive.

And oh yes, those platforms are addictive. There are people in Japan a commit suicide if their posts don’t get traction in likes. And there are people whose faces are glued to their TikTok that they forget to properly cross the street and they get hit.

As more research points to the damaging effects of social media consumption as relates to reduction in outdoor activities, poor social skills and eye damage among young people , more people will begin to push for even more regulation.

Most of the backlash today has come from the lens of data privacy , protecting elections and revenue sharing but as the impact on health becomes clearer like it was for tobacco, expect to see more stringent regulation of these platforms.

For platforms that thrive on freewheeling expression , how will they survive government mandated?

I do believe that social media companies should pay their users for using their platforms- especially those creating content and engaging.

However for platforms that thrive on freewheeling expression , how will they survive government mandated restrictions? I will therefore urge governments that if and when they scale up their social media regulations , they need to avoid tightening the screws so much that the innovation these platforms have created , dries up.

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