Facebook, Twitter and Google’s varied tactics to bury content they disagree with is eerily reminiscent of the Ministry of Truth’s “memory hole” from 1984. And a new piece of legislation that requires government-sanctioned fact-checkers takes things even further.
California State Senator Richard Pan introduced “SB1424 Internet: social media: false information: strategic plan.” that requires any online communication to be run through government-approved
This bill would require any person who operates a social media, as defined, Internet Web site with a physical presence in California to develop a strategic plan to verify news stories shared on its Web site. The bill would require the plan to include, among other things, a plan to mitigate the spread of false information through news stories, the utilization of fact-checkers to verify news stories, providing outreach to social media users, and placing a warning on a news story containing false information.
The opening paragraph seems to limit the regulation to social media websites, but the definition is all-encompassing.
As used in this section, “social media” means an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or Internet Web site profiles or locations.
Even your text messages would require government approval?
If passed, the law would only apply to internet services “with a physical presence in California” but the exact definition of “physical presence” isn’t clear. If a website is accessed by a computer or smartphone in California, does that constitute a physical presence? What if a text or email is shared via Facebook which is headquartered in The Golden State?
The bill stands little chance of passing and, if it did, would face serious challenges in court as an infringement of The First Amendment, but it is astonishing that a legislator would even consider such a thing in America.
This serves as a warning. 10 years ago this kind of legislation was unfathomable. 10 years from now, it could become law.