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Who’s responsible for COVID-19 misinformation? Lawmakers introduce bill to hold Facebook, Twitter accountable

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Lawmakers are introducing a bill to hold social media companies like Facebook and Twitter accountable for the spread of health misinformation.

The Health Misinformation Act, introduced by U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., would create an exception under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act related to misinformation spread about a public health emergency.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides protection for social media companies against content their users post. However, the provision has been heavily scrutinized by lawmakers as false information related to COVID vaccines and the 2020 U.S. presidential election flourished on social media.

“For far too long, online platforms have not done enough to protect the health of Americans,” said Klobuchar in a statement. “These are some of the biggest, richest companies in the world and they must do more to prevent the spread of deadly vaccine misinformation.”

The legislation follows remarks from the Biden administration saying they will assess whether social media platforms are legally liable for misinformation spread by users.

“We’re reviewing that, and certainly, they should be held accountable,” White House communication director Kate Bedingfield said during an interview Tuesday on MSNBC.

The platforms have attempted to crack down more aggressively on misinformation related to COVID-19 as well as other topics. Last Monday night, Twitter suspended Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for 12 hours for posting two “misleading” tweets about COVID-19. The platform also added tags to her tweets suggesting they had misleading information.

In February, Facebook warned of larger crackdowns on COVID misinformation, saying groups, pages or accounts that continued to spread false information on Facebook or Instagram may be removed.


(c) 2021 USA Today

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