Listen on the go: Four Days investigation, narrated by Kevin Donovan.
In response to questions raised by the U.S. Congress about the dangers of online hate speech and fake news, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced the “Fake News Transparency Act,” which would require Facebook and other social media sites “to quickly remove content it determines to be false or deliberately misleading.” The bill would make it “an act of civil disobedience for a social platform to remove inaccurate or objectionable content from its site” within 24 hours.
The new law would expand definitions of “false or misleading” content used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Specifically, the bill would expand the definition of “false or misleading information” to include:
information that intentionally misleads by means that are not by their nature accurate or that are capable of substantial error and are likely to deceive. [Emphasis added.]
The bill’s definition of the word “misleading information” is even broader than the definition used by the FCC. In the FCC’s definition, misleading information includes: “a representation that is incomplete, inaccurate, or deceptive if it omits information that is material, known by the person making it to be true or that is important in determining the person’s course of conduct.”
The bill is based on the notion that what are known as “post-truth” theories are eroding the public’s trust in traditional news organizations and the traditional news media, and that this erosion needs to be reversed.
The bill’s supporters say the goal is to restore that trust by creating a presumption that the news media is capable of delivering accurate, impartial and balanced information, the foundation of democracy and our entire economy. If not, the public should have no confidence in the news media.
Some have argued that social media companies are trying to undermine the First Amendment and the free press. These critics claim that the companies are seeking to silence political speech by discouraging consumers from reading and discussing material that is critical of the president or the company.
We have always made it our goal to protect the First Amendment. But, we believe there is an even more compelling reason for Congress to act: For the first time in American history, there is clear evidence that the Trump presidency has been