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Monday, September 20, 2021

US Senators Propose Bill to Fight Vaccine Misinformation Online

Democratic senators  Amy Klobuchar and Ben Ray Luján introduced new legislation on Thursday to hold tech companies responsible for allowing health-related misinformation to spread online.

The bill known as the Health Misinformation Act would create an exception to the landmark internet law Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which would hold social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter liable and accountable for hosting some dangerous health misinformation.

“Features that are built into technology platforms have contributed to the spread of misinformation and disinformation with social media platforms incentivizing individuals to share content to get likes, comments, and other positive signals of engagement, which rewards engagement rather than accuracy,” stated a draft of the law.

The legislation delegates the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for declaring public health emergencies, to define what constitutes health misinformation.

Facebook VP of public policy Kevin Martin voiced optimism about the bill in a statement on Thursday claiming that they have “long supported common industry standards and section 230 reform.”

YouTube said this week that it would start putting notices on some videos about health with links to “authoritative” sources.

Critics argued that social media companies are not doing enough and must go much farther. The Center for Countering Digital Hate, a nonprofit that combats disinformation, said that only 12 people are responsible for 65% of anti-vaccine posts on social media yet the platforms haven’t remove them off completely.

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