According to a Pew Research Center survey, two-thirds of Americans use social media as a source for news. Social media–unlike print, video, or radio news—is not regulated by the federal government. The increase in global awareness of fake news has raised concerns about the practice of utilizing unregulated social media as the main news source. Congress has already mounted several bills since the 2016 presidential election aiming to regulate social media and prevent fake news. The potential for government involvement has led many people to question whether regulation is the most effective way to address the issue of fake news.
Proponents of regulation believe it’s about allowing people to get reliable information from social media. They maintain that social media companies need to be held accountable for allowing fake news to be spread throughout their sites, and regulations could make fake information easier for the public to identify. Regulations could, among other things, require political ads and news articles posted on social media to have a visible sponsor, and thereby make the various platforms more reliable sources of information.
Opponents hold that keeping social media unregulated is a protection of Americans’ free speech rights. If the government is given the power to regulate social media, they argue, then it could also begin to regulate speech it deems derogatory to government officials. Government watchdogs, whistleblowers, and organizations such as Wikileaks could be restrained as the government begins deciding what is “fake” and what is “real’ news. In short, many in this camp maintain that regulating social media would result in First Amendment violations without any reduction in fake news.
We want to know what you think. Is regulating social media the most effective way to prevent fake news?