Why self-regulation of social media could work — the financial services model

M. Todd Henderson

Trust in social media companies is eroding. At the recent White House Social Media Summit, the president’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, decried “social media platforms . . . banning conservative voices and supporters of the president.” Meanwhile, progressives blame Facebook and Twitter for the president being elected in the first place, citing a campaign of disinformation spread by Russian trolls.

In response, social media companies are taking steps to increase trust on internet platforms. Facebook and YouTube have built huge teams and sophisticated technology to police violations of their self-defined community standards. In a recently released report, Facebook describes tens of millions of posts it reviewed for questionable content, ranging from nudity to terrorist propaganda. News reports suggest Facebook is building a “supreme court” of up to forty individuals to decide “important and disputed” cases.

While these efforts are laudable, they are likely not enough to rebuild public trust or ameliorate regulators. The lack of alternatives to many social media platforms in the market means that if Facebook or Twitter is biased against particular viewpoints, there isn’t anywhere for people holding those views to go.

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