Congress again hopes to limit protective measures under Section 230 under certain circumstances. MP Frank Pallone and other House Democrats are introducing a law, the Justice Against Malicious Algorithms Act (JAMA), that would make Internet platforms accountable when they “knowingly or recklessly” use algorithms to recommend content that leads to physical or “serious emotional” injury. They are concerned that internet giants like Facebook are deliberately amplifying harmful material, and that companies should be held accountable for this damage.
Key sponsors, including representatives, Mike Doyle, Jan Schakowsky and Anna Eshoo, highlighted the testimony of whistleblower Frances Haugen in the Senate as alleged evidence of abuse of Facebook’s algorithm. Her statements were proof that Facebook was abusing section 230 of the Communications Decency Act “which is far from congressional intent,” Eshoo states. Haugen claimed that Facebook knew that its social networks were harmful to children and that it spread “shared and extreme” content.
The account only applies to services with over 5 million monthly users and will not include basic network infrastructure (such as web hosting) or user searches. JAMA will appear in front of the House on October 15.
As with previous reforms, there is no guarantee that JAMA will become law. Provided the House passes, an equivalent measure has yet to clean up the Senate, which has been hostile to some Democrat proposals. The parties have historically disagreed on how to change Section 230 – Democrats believe it does not require enough moderation for hatred and misinformation, while Republicans have argued it allows censorship of conservative views. Vague concepts of the law, such as ‘reckless’ use of algorithms and emotional damage, can cause fear of too broad interpretations.
The bill could still send a message even if he dies. Pallone and other JAMA supporters argue that “the time for self-regulation has passed” —they are no longer convinced that heavy social media like Facebook can apologize, apply a few changes, and move on. This does not necessarily lead to a more strictly regulated social media space, but it could put more pressure on social networks to implement far-reaching policy changes.
All products recommended by Engadget have been selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories involve partnerships. If you purchase something through one of these links, we can earn a commission for affiliates.
Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.