Texas social media censorship ban — a victory for disinformation?

Phil Napoli

Will a new Texas law require social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to host vaccine disinformation, or even hate speech? The law also makes it a crime to “de-boost” comments and other posts, forbidding firms from taking away algorithmic amplification that helps extreme posts go viral.  But are Facebook and Instagram users entitled to — not just free speech, but also free reach? 

That’s what today’s Debugger in 10 is about. Texas Governor Greg Abbott last week signed a law that he says will protect Texans from “Wrongful Social Media Censorship.” The law makes it illegal to ban users based on their political viewpoints. It also requires regular reports of removed content, creation of a complaint system, and transparency about content regulation procedures. The law only applies only to giant social media firms with more than 50 million users. So Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

On the surface, these sound like good things. We don’t want people banned just based on their viewpoint. We do want reports about what has been removed and why — anyone should welcome more transparency into that process. So, what’s not to like about this Texas bill? Here to help us sort that out is Duke University professor Phil Napoli. He is Director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy. And he’s written extensively on social media regulation and disinformation.

Click the play button below to listen, or click here to listen on Spotify.

FOR MORE: Read Phil Napoli’s column, Social media platforms genuinely need some form of government regulation | TheHill

Listen to other Debugger episodes on iTunes. Debugger is brought to you by Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and Duke’s Kenan Institute for Ethics.


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About Bob Sullivan 1536 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.

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