How to Fix Social Media’s Big Problems? Lawmakers Have Ideas

Fixing the privacy and misinformation failures plaguing big tech companies is no easy task — but on both sides of the Atlantic, lawmakers are attempting to jump-start policy conversations in a bid to tackle the issues.

The office of Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has written a paper outlining potential policies to regulate social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The suggestions made by Mr. Warner’s office aim to address how privacy, competition and public discourse are being affected by the misuse of those companies’ services.

The existence of the paper was first reported by Axios and confirmed by The New York Times.

In Britain, the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee also has published a report that provided the government with recommendations about how to achieve similar results.

Both documents stemmed from investigations into misinformation on social media platforms and offer some common solutions. For instance, the reports propose large tech companies should:

  • Undergo audits of their data and algorithms.
  • Be liable if they fail to take down illegal or damaging content.
  • Have a duty to identify and remove fake accounts.
  • Be subject to legislation demanding their transparency.

Many of the 20 policy proposals put forward by Mr. Warner’s office are specific to the United States. For example, the paper proposed the United States adopt sweeping new privacy legislation similar to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation and provide the Federal Trade Commission with greater rule-making authority to protect the digital lives of consumers.

Photo: Tom Brenner/The New York Times