In this episode, Erik shares about the regulations of the US Government on social media.
Erik J. Olson (00:00):
What I wanna talk about is what I believe to be the government’s impending regulation on social media. All right. So why am I talking about regulation? It’s a pretty serious topic, but I found out about, or got interested in it because of these silly means that were out on the internet for a while. I just, I was like intrigued by the fact that mark Zuckerberg, who I think we all know his story ended up not in a star Trek outfit like that, but in a suit in front of Congress and was testifying for two days about what Facebook was doing and how it impacted the elections. And I, I kept seeing more and more content and articles coming out about social media and social media executives going to Congress. And it got me just intrigued, like what’s, what’s going on here and where’s this going?
Erik J. Olson (00:55):
And in order to answer that, I, I really had to kind of go back in time and figure out how we had gotten here. So here’s a timeline of the things that I’m gonna talk about. But it really kind of dates back to 1996 with the communications decency act. So this was signed by president Clinton and, and I’m gonna be very quick, cuz I’ve got a lot of slides, so I’m not gonna go into death at all. But in 1996, Congress wanted to do something about pornography on the internet and they passed the communications decency act. Now buried in that is code two 30 as quoted right here, which basically gives internet web site companies called website companies, immunity from any content that they host or show on their website. That’s created by third parties. Alright, so the third party content that’s on Facebook on Twitter, Facebook and Twitter themselves are not responsible for that content.
Erik J. Olson (01:56):
They’re not liable for that content. That’s what that code does. We’re gonna come back to that, cuz that’s pretty significant, fast forward 10 years and all of a sudden social media’s everywhere. You can’t escape it. And by 2006 here’s all of the, the biggest players that were on social media. And actually, I don’t know if, if MySpace was really a big player at that point or not, cuz Facebook was on the scene fast forward again, two years Obama’s running for the presidency and he is widely known as the first social media president. He’s got a handle Barack Obama that is published to frequently on Twitter. He has a huge falling at this point. He has a hundred million followers. Hey so he, he was, he was the first one to really leverage this new media, social media and then 2016 the fallout from 2016 it, it, it’s still falling out.
Erik J. Olson (02:59):
There’s congressional hearings. There’s a what’s it called a special prosecutor. Is that the right term? So there there’s a lot still going on because of what happened with Facebook and its impact on the elections. So it’s just amazing that Facebook, which was created in the dorm room by the student who ended up dropping out of Harvard, had such a huge impact, not only on the election, but on the world really. So he ends up as you guys probably know in front of Congress for two days, testifying about what Facebook is, how they make their money what they knew when they knew it, all the things that you would expect for Congress to ask of a witness. But when he was there, he indicated that he was open to discussions about regulation. And so that, that kind of jumped out at me.
Erik J. Olson (03:53):
I thought that was really surprising to hear someone who’s not regulated to say, Hey, if regulation’s going to happen, let’s talk about it. Right? So he was basically trying to soften the blow in my opinion, thinking that it’s going to happen. And he wants to be part of that discussion before it happens. So now we’re into 2008 or 18 and our Senator Mark Warner, he in July, he put out a document basically talking about 20 different ways, 20 different paths towards going from non-regulated to regulated when it comes to social media. So he is got lots of different options and this, this document goes on and on and on and on. I haven’t read the whole thing. I just took a screenshot cuz it’s just too many words. Again, Facebook shows up in front of Congress again. So this is Cheryl Sandberg and then Jack Dorsey from Twitter. And they gave, I think about a day, I think it was a one day testimony in front of Congress. And you, you could see here, there’s, there’s some quote, a quote from a Senator. They’re very disturbed about what’s going on with social media. It’s very, very powerful and they feel like they’ve lost control.
Erik J. Olson (05:07):
I, this is when this happened, which was just a couple days ago. This is when I decided I was gonna talk about this. So this is in the EU and the EU is this is kind of a phrase that I created. They’re deputizing social media. So they’re putting a requirement and it’s an unfunded requirement on social media in the European union to police content and take it down if, if it’s offensive or there’s an infraction, I don’t know how they’re going to figure out. Or if, if they’re gonna create some sort of regulation or I know they’re gonna create regulation, but how do these media companies determine what is in violation or not? I don’t even know if all that’s defined yet. This only applies by the way to tech giants. So the small guys in Europe are okay, but the big boys they’re in trouble on the same day, again, Mark Warner, he put out a quote, this came out after the European European union event took place.
Erik J. Olson (06:12):
And you could see here in his opinion, there’s an overwhelming majority, that regulation is going to happen. So the rhetoric’s starting to ratchet up a little bit. This got cut off obviously, but September 26th, fast forward, couple days, there’s going to be another hearing, Amazon Google at and T Twitter, apple and charter communications is going in front of Congress for, for yet another hearing on this topic, right? So this is not over, not even close. So what I really wanted to understand is where’s all this going. And so I, I went to the source that you would think you’d go to, which is the internet. And I did a whole bunch of queries and I wanted to see what was happening with the the act and what people were thinking. And, and I, I had, I’m gonna blow through these slides.
Erik J. Olson (07:02):
These are all screenshots of tweets and images and videos that are out there where people are expressing their opinion one way or another. But what you can see in the next couple of slides is that there’s a battle going on right now around section two 30. Now again, section two 30 is a provision that gives websites, immunity for third party content. And some people are for it. They wanna protect it and other people are against it. They wanna, they want it to go away. And for the most part, they want it to go away because they they believe that this protection endangers children and endangers people from the, or an endangered people that are exposed to the sex slave as sex slaves, I’m sorry. So there’s a lot of people for, and against this,
Erik J. Olson (07:58):
It goes on and on. We’ve got some celebrities that are weighing on the matter. I was pretty surprised when I found all this. I didn’t realize this was going on, but it, it is absolutely happening even a hashtag. All right. So where does all this lead to I predict that it’s going to lead to the repeal of the communication decency act, section two 30, the two 30 being again, immunity for websites against third party content we’ve already seen when Twitter was up on congressional hill that they were, they stated that they take down between 10 and 15,000 fake accounts every single week. It’s an amazing amount of work. So if Twitter’s doing that, imagine all of the combined effort and expense of cleaning up this content and Twitter’s just starting. And Twitter has a bad reputation to begin with. Others have probably been doing this for a lot longer, but where’s it gonna go?
Erik J. Olson (09:05):
If they repeal two 30, which by the way, I had never heard of until a couple days ago, just doing research for this talk. It means that again, the websites will take on responsibility and liability. It’s gonna increase cost. It’s going to increase barriers to entry for new social media providers. And then, you know, honestly I have to wonder about price regulation. Is, is it gonna be a regulated price now? Because if the government’s forcing you to take on some activity, like cleaning up your content are they going to ensure that you have some sort of monopoly kind of like the power company utilities? I don’t know. So that’s where I think all this is going again, the next hearing’s gonna be on the 26th and I would tune in and see what’s gonna happen. I think it’s gonna affect all of us here.