Regulating Social Media: The Dilemma

The British Government has come up with a plan to regulate allegedly harmful content on social media:

Britain unveils plan to penalize Facebook and Google for harmful online content

(see also The dark side of regulating speech on Facebook)


I do not have the perfect answer to the question of how to ban harmful content from the Internet. I offer observations:

—Stop talking about Facebook, Google, Instagram,etc., and start talking about Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and the other executives of our Internet services
—Trying to solve the problem with government regulations is always problematic because it poses risks to freedom of speech and the First Amendment
—It’s almost impossible to come up with objective, universally applicable rules about what content is or is not acceptable
—Even after adopting rules, the second problem immediately arises: who is to enforce them? What body or individuals? Who is to choose them? By what criteria?
—We never reached a perfect solution regarding porn. Why do we expect a solution regarding Facebook?

But above all: The decisions of individual Americans is probably the best solution. Don’t like the wretched content on Facebook? Cancel your subscription and stop using the darn thing. The KKK did not become a marginal political force through government regulation. Americans simply stopped joining the stupid thing. The market is the best recourse.

–Tom Barksdale


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