Lessons from social media’s predecessors

The Online Safety Bill is a proposed Act of the Parliament intended to improve internet safety.

UK online safety bill could set tone for global social media regulationThe Guardian
Even before the arrival of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, social media companies were feeling the heat from regulators and politicians. It is white-hot now. We were well past the tipping point of mild concern from governments and watchdogs anyway, but Haugen’s document leaks and Senate testimony have given greater legitimacy and impetus to those who say something has to be done.

Something has to be done, but what?

Telegrams (a one-to-one system with messages carried “under lock and key”) and radio stations (broadcasting, with a “public interest standard”) were cutting edge technologies once, requiring new approaches to regulation and legislation. Here, Nicholas Carr takes us on a trip back in time to draw interesting comparisons between how those approaches came about and what might be required to improve our experience of social media. It’s not going to fix itself.

How to fix social mediaThe New Atlantis
Disentangling personal speech and public speech is clarifying. It reveals the dual roles that social media companies play. They transmit personal messages on behalf of individuals, and they broadcast a variety of content to the general public. The two businesses have very different characteristics, as we’ve seen, and they demand different kinds of oversight. The two-pronged regulatory approach of the last century, far from being obsolete, remains vital. It can once again help bring order to a chaotic media environment. For a Congress struggling with the complexities of the social media crisis, it might even serve as the basis of a broad new law — a Digital Communications Act in the tradition of the original Communications Act — that both protects the privacy of personal correspondence and conversation and secures the public’s interest in broadcasting.

Author: Terry Madeley

Works with student data and enjoys reading about art, data, education and technology.

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