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house Bill H.R. 492

Ending Legal Protections for Social Media Platforms That Use Algorithms to Create Biased Newsfeeds

Argument in favor

Social media companies have been using algorithms to suppress content from conservative voices. Unless they stop and act like the neutral platforms they claim to be they should be treated like publishers and face related legal protections.

Dawn's Opinion
···
03/18/2019
Free speech is one thing. Deliberatly creating a software entity that is designed to sway public opinion in your favor using misinformation campaigns is NOT free speech.
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SneakyPete's Opinion
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03/19/2019
👍🏻HOUSE BILL H.R 492 AKA Biased Algorithm Deterrence Act of 2019👍🏻 I’m in STRONG support of and recommend the passage the House Bill H.R. 492 AKA the Biased Algorithm Deterrence Act, would allow social media platforms to be sued for using algorithms to suppress otherwise permissible user-generated content relative to similar content from newsfeeds. It would do so by removing protections under Section 230 of the Communications Act, which currently protects social media companies from liability for filtering illegal or undesirable content — whether or not it’s constitutionally protected — because they aren’t considered the publisher of the content (rather, they’re considered providers). This bill would end that protection by treating social media companies as publishers.  Social media companies have been using algorithms to suppress content from conservative voices. Unless they stop and act like the neutral platforms they claim to be they should be treated like publishers and face related legal protections. SneakyPete.......... 🤷‍♀️WHY NOT🤷🏼‍♂️. 3*18*19..........
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Gopin2018's Opinion
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03/19/2019
I fully support and recommenced passage of this bill as written. As someone who has been in Facebook jail many times for expressing conservative view points it’s past time to make big tech platforms like Twitter, Facebook and others even for all viewpoints. #MAGA
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Argument opposed

Social media companies should continue to be free to use whatever algorithms or other process they choose to present content on their platforms. Rather than trying to expose those platforms to lawsuits, users who don’t like how they operate can stop using them.

Anna's Opinion
···
03/19/2019
There are problems with social media, but this is an attempt to use those problems to suppress progressive voices. Saying the media has a liberal bias is an unfounded right wing conspiracy theory perpetuated by blatantly conservatively biased “news” organizations like Fox News and our wannabe dictator in chief. Unbiased means all sides are given an equal voice, and lies, bigotry, and hate are called out for what they are. Unbiased does not mean conservatives get to dominate the conversation just because they want to. Democrats won a lot in 2018 because most Americans aren’t hateful bigots, which the leader of the Republican Party seems to embrace right now. If conservatives want people to vote for them then get on the right side of history. If a person doesn’t want to get called out as a jerk on social media then don’t act like one. The problems of social media do need addressed, but the solution should not be turned into a weapon to use against conservatives or progressives.
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Robert's Opinion
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03/19/2019
We need to be given truths and not lies. This act sounds like it wants to protect and propagate information that is not truth.
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I.Got.an.Idea...'s Opinion
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03/19/2019
Another Conservative “.... the Sky is smurfing”.... propaganda and a way to control people and corporations. Conservatives lie and spin half truths to support their agenda. They spend their days trying to repeal consumer protections and Citizen benefits, so they can take from the middle class and the poor and give to the rich, sort of like they are enslaved or servants to the wealthy. The Conservatives have no conscience, no moral or ethical values. They take and take and take “ for me-me-me”....... That is all they know. Selfish, unethical, unintelligent little minds that only desire greed and money over all else..... they are all “Gollum” from Lord if the Rings.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
    IntroducedJanuary 11th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 492?

This bill, the Biased Algorithm Deterrence Act, would allow social media platforms to be sued for using algorithms to suppress otherwise permissible user-generated content relative to similar content from newsfeeds. It would do so by removing protections under Section 230 of the Communications Act, which currently protects social media companies from liability for filtering illegal or undesirable content — whether or not it’s constitutionally protected — because they aren’t considered the publisher of the content (rather, they’re considered providers). This bill would end that protection by treating social media companies as publishers. 

Impact

Social media platforms; individuals and outlets that are wrongfully suppressed because of bias; and the courts.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 492

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to end social media platforms’ suppression of conservative messages:

“Social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google are now among the largest and most powerful companies in the world. More and more people are turning to a social media platform for news than ever before, arguably making these companies more powerful than traditional media outlets. Yet, social media companies enjoy special legal protections under Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934, protections not shared by other media. Instead of acting like the neutral platforms they claim to be in order obtain their immunity, these companies have turned Section 230 into a license to potentially defraud and defame with impunity. Representatives of social media companies have testified in Congressional hearings that they do not discriminate against or filter out conservative voices on their platforms. But for all their reassurances, the disturbing trend continues unabated. Employees from some of these companies have communicated their disgust for conservatives and discussed ways to use social media platforms and algorithms to silence and prevent income to conservatives… Since there still appears to be no sincere effort to stop this disconcerting behavior, it is time for social media companies to be liable for any biased and unethical impropriety of their employees as any other media company. If these companies want to continue to act like a biased medium and publish their own agendas to the detriment of others, they need to be held accountable.”

Rep. Gohmert claims that deliberate filtering, called “algorithmic bias,” favors liberal points of view even while social media companies’ executives maintain their platforms are neutral in order to shield their companies from lawsuits. 

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) filed a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter alleging the social media platform systematically shadow-banned conservative users to influence the 2018 elections. The lawsuit alleges defamation, conspiracy, and negligence and seeks an injunction to compel Twitter to turn over the identities of numerous accounts he claims harassed and defamed him. 

The Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2Coalition) opposes this bill. Its Executive Director, Christian Dawson, wrote:

“[This bill] seeks to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in ways that would change the liability requirements of Internet providers and make them liable for the actions of their customers unless they make a ‘good faith’ effort to deter illegal acts. ‘Good faith’ is such a squishy term that it’s more or less meaningless. Overnight, Internet providers would be subject to endless lawsuits without the strict monitoring of every aspect of their user’s content.”


Of NoteAlgorithms are central to how information and communications are located, retrieved, and presented online. They inform Twitter follow recommendations, Facebook newsfeeds, and suggested Google map directions. However, Michele Wilson, an associate professor at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, explains that they aren’t objective instructions, but rather assume certain parameters and values and are in constant flux with changes made by both humans and machines:

“Embedded in complex amalgams of political, technical, cultural and social interactions, algorithms bring about particular ways of seeing the world, reproduce stereotypes, strengthen world views, restrict choices or open previously unidentified possibilities.”

In an article on The Conversation, Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, an assistant professor in the department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of South Florida and Filippo Menczer, a professor of Computer Science and Informatives and Director of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research at Indiana University, write that social media algorithms are vulnerable to manipulation:

“[T]he fact that low-credibility content spreads so quickly and easily suggests that people and the algorithms behind social media platforms are vulnerable to manipulation… Both social media platforms and search engines employ them. These personalization technologies are designed to select only the most engaging and relevant content for each individual user. But in doing so, it may end up reinforcing the cognitive and social biases of users, thus making them even more vulnerable to manipulation. For instance, the detailed advertising tools built into many social media platforms let disinformation campaigners exploit confirmation bias by tailoring messages to people who are already inclined to believe them. Also, if a user often clicks on Facebook links from a particular news source, Facebook will tend to show that person more of that site’s content. This so-called “filter bubble” effect may isolate people from diverse perspectives, strengthening confirmation bias. Our own research shows that social media platforms expose users to a less diverse set of sources than do non-social media sites like Wikipedia. Because this is at the level of a whole platform, not of a single user, we call this the homogeneity bias. Another important ingredient of social media is information that is trending on the platform, according to what is getting the most clicks. We call this popularity bias, because we have found that an algorithm designed to promote popular content may negatively affect the overall quality of information on the platform. This also feeds into existing cognitive bias, reinforcing what appears to be popular irrespective of its quality. All these algorithmic biases can be manipulated by social bots, computer programs that interact with humans through social media accounts. Most social bots, like Twitter’s Big Ben, are harmless. However, some conceal their real nature and are used for malicious intents, such as boosting disinformation or falsely creating the appearance of a grassroots movement, also called “astroturfing.” We found evidence of this type of manipulation in the run-up to the 2010 U.S. midterm election… [W]e analyzed the core of the misinformation network during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. We found many bots exploiting both the cognitive, confirmation and popularity biases of their victims and Twitter’s algorithmic biases.”

Social media platforms have come under fire for bias against conservative news media:

“Testifying before the US Congress, Mark Zuckerberg told the representatives that he wouldn’t be surprised if there was a left-leaning bias in Silicon Valley. Facebook came under fire in May 2016 when a group of former employees told the technology blog Gizmodo that they routinely suppressed news about prominent conservative figures (most notably in the ‘trending’ section of the website). They also claimed stories by outlets like Breitbart or Newsmax were dismissed unless The New York Times or CNN covered the same article, in which case the more left-leaning publications were promoted. Similarly, Youtube has been criticized for using the radically left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center to influence its decisions as to what content is too offensive to be placed on its site – their arbitration has effectively hit only conservative videos.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / bigtunaonline)

AKA

Biased Algorithm Deterrence Act of 2019

Official Title

To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to provide that an owner or operator of a social media service that hinders the display of user-generated content shall be treated as a publisher or speaker of such content, and for other purposes.

    Free speech is one thing. Deliberatly creating a software entity that is designed to sway public opinion in your favor using misinformation campaigns is NOT free speech.
    Like (164)
    Follow
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    There are problems with social media, but this is an attempt to use those problems to suppress progressive voices. Saying the media has a liberal bias is an unfounded right wing conspiracy theory perpetuated by blatantly conservatively biased “news” organizations like Fox News and our wannabe dictator in chief. Unbiased means all sides are given an equal voice, and lies, bigotry, and hate are called out for what they are. Unbiased does not mean conservatives get to dominate the conversation just because they want to. Democrats won a lot in 2018 because most Americans aren’t hateful bigots, which the leader of the Republican Party seems to embrace right now. If conservatives want people to vote for them then get on the right side of history. If a person doesn’t want to get called out as a jerk on social media then don’t act like one. The problems of social media do need addressed, but the solution should not be turned into a weapon to use against conservatives or progressives.
    Like (89)
    Follow
    Share
    👍🏻HOUSE BILL H.R 492 AKA Biased Algorithm Deterrence Act of 2019👍🏻 I’m in STRONG support of and recommend the passage the House Bill H.R. 492 AKA the Biased Algorithm Deterrence Act, would allow social media platforms to be sued for using algorithms to suppress otherwise permissible user-generated content relative to similar content from newsfeeds. It would do so by removing protections under Section 230 of the Communications Act, which currently protects social media companies from liability for filtering illegal or undesirable content — whether or not it’s constitutionally protected — because they aren’t considered the publisher of the content (rather, they’re considered providers). This bill would end that protection by treating social media companies as publishers.  Social media companies have been using algorithms to suppress content from conservative voices. Unless they stop and act like the neutral platforms they claim to be they should be treated like publishers and face related legal protections. SneakyPete.......... 🤷‍♀️WHY NOT🤷🏼‍♂️. 3*18*19..........
    Like (55)
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    The idea behind this bill is good. The problem is it is not targeted to bring balanced reporting but to push an ultra conservative agenda. If the bill can be done in a way to honestly bring a balance I could support it. Louie Gohmert, however, is extremely hard right and balance is not his intent here.
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    I fully support and recommenced passage of this bill as written. As someone who has been in Facebook jail many times for expressing conservative view points it’s past time to make big tech platforms like Twitter, Facebook and others even for all viewpoints. #MAGA
    Like (34)
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    We need to be given truths and not lies. This act sounds like it wants to protect and propagate information that is not truth.
    Like (26)
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    Another Conservative “.... the Sky is smurfing”.... propaganda and a way to control people and corporations. Conservatives lie and spin half truths to support their agenda. They spend their days trying to repeal consumer protections and Citizen benefits, so they can take from the middle class and the poor and give to the rich, sort of like they are enslaved or servants to the wealthy. The Conservatives have no conscience, no moral or ethical values. They take and take and take “ for me-me-me”....... That is all they know. Selfish, unethical, unintelligent little minds that only desire greed and money over all else..... they are all “Gollum” from Lord if the Rings.
    Like (25)
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    The first amendment only protects you from the government censors. Private companies can do what they want. Did you click “Agree” on the TOS? Then shut up. You agreed. Don’t like it, don’t use the service. I don’t use FB anymore for just that reason.
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    Firstly, anything put out by Louie Gohmert who is Tea Party ilk is a flat out "Hell No" in my book. Secondly, so tired of hearing republicans wail and whine that they are being censored here and shadow banned there... especially when they consistently spew out disinformation and bold faced lies designed to demonize Democrats. For example, the lie going around that Democrats execute newborn babies. Or the lie that's been floating around for more than a decade that Democrats are coming to take their guns. Dems actually *should* come and take their guns considering how they don't give a covfefe about the mass slaughterings that occur daily in this country and constantly threaten civil war whenever they don't get what they want. But the fact is, it's a bullcovfefe lie. Democrats are not coming to take their bloody guns, nor do they execute newborn babies, or sell baby parts, or are involved in child sex trafficking... Those are just a few of the thousands of outrageous lies put out via social media by republicans about Democrats. Yet they whine and wail and pull their hair out when those lies get pulled or censored because those lies have either caused bodily harm to people -- such as the GOP bomber who went after Democratic leadership, or any one of the radical right wing crazies that rampaged this country last year, killing with impunity -- or have the potential to cause bodily harm to people. Stop the lies. Stop the deliberate disinformation. Gohmert's bill is not about balance to social media. Instead it has everything to do to further demonize Democrats. No, I absolutely don't support this measure.
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    Poor Louie, he trys so hard to make a bill sound good. All this would do is make Fox News the only news that would be available to the various platforms. What a joke, we see right through you, Louie.
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    Who controls what is biased? Another partisan wolf in sheep’s clothing
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    When social media no longer acts as a platform, a place where all voices may be heard, and begins to filter those voices, they become a publisher. The law appears to want to reclassify social media companies who engage in this as publishers, opening them up for civil lawsuits. The first amendment can be tricky but must be if we are to allow all voices their chance to speak.
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    Its time to stop social media companies from coloring the news for one party or the other.
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    Social media and the media in general have influenced elections for far too long. These companies are not for freedom of ideas but restricting conservatives view points because they don’t like them. They promote liberal propaganda and demonize anyone who is conservative. They have become political in nature and not true free markets of information or news organizations that are to report not create the news. Maybe they should change their names to Facebook for Liberals, or Google Democrats.
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    Facebook, and such must present unbiased information. How they do it is irrelevant, They must find a way to present information without making it propaganda.
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    Filtering is the enemy of free speech
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    REAL FAKE NEWS, NOT TRUMP'S MADE UP FAKE NEWS! AMERICA'S MORON BELIEVES FOX AND THE NATIONAL INQUIRER ARE NEWS SOURCES. MAY GOD FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT DEAL WITH HIM QUICKLY
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    With great power comes responsibility. If these platforms want to be biased, they should register as a PAC.
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    The GOPers here are just pissed that FACTS do not support their views and that they have to face the reality of propaganda being banned by playforms
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    Let people be their own filter. There is so much bias in media today that preventing social media from becoming a social engineering platform is a worthy endeavor.
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