Thursday, September 15, 2022

New CA Law Requires Social Media Terms of Service to Include Anti-Hate Speech & Misinformation Policies

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a controversial bill requiring social media companies to be more transparent, potentially setting up a legal battle over whether such restrictions violate free speech safeguards.

A.B. 587 requires digital businesses to submit semiannual reports to the state attorney general outlining their hate speech, misinformation, and extremism content moderation practices. The bill, which Newsom signed on Tuesday, was introduced in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the United States Capitol, as concerns grew about the role of digital companies in inciting extremism and violence.

The new law requires social media companies to publicly disclose their terms of service, which include additional information. The term "terms of service" refers to a policy or set of regulations issued by a social media company that, at a minimum, outlines the user behavior and activities that are permitted on the social media company's internet-based service.

The Attorney General is required by law to make available to the public all terms of service reports filed in accordance with those laws in a searchable repository on its official internet website.

The new law is the latest in a long line of state legislators' efforts to impose regulations on social media companies. The California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, which was passed by the state senate last week, requires social media companies to consider the physical and emotional health of children who use their platforms.

Several Big Tech corporations and trade organizations in the tech sector have filed lawsuits in Texas and Florida to prevent similar social media regulation measures from being implemented in those states.

Legal experts have also expressed reservations about the bill, citing the First Amendment and free speech as major concerns.