The prevalence of social media these days has had the effect of having a huge influence on the global conversation, and many would say most of its impact has been more or less negative. However, it has also sparked a debate over whether social media platforms can be held legally responsible for what their users use their platform to talk about. The main crux of this debate is whether or not ordinary people should be able to sue social media platforms based on something one of their users might have said.
The Pew Research Center recently conducted an investigation of over 4,600 people in the United States, and this survey found that a majority of people think social media platforms should not be sued for something a user has said, the exact percentage being 56 %. 41% of those surveyed apparently felt they should be able to sue the platform, and it seems the dividing line between these two groups is whether or not they tend to use social media in the first place.
59% of people who use social media said people shouldn’t be able to sue, and that number was as low as 47% for people who don’t use social media. This seems to indicate that people who tend to use social media on a more or less regular basis might have a better understanding of what using the social media platform actually entails. The point is, social media platforms just give you a place to express your thoughts, and the things you say are completely in your control.
All that being said and now dismissed, it’s important to note that when the question is worded a little differently, the answers we get tend to be quite different as well. 53% of those surveyed believed that the prospect of legal action could simply cause social media platforms to restrict bullying on their sites much more than it could have otherwise. 49% also felt that it would help reduce the amount of fake news or disinformation shared on the platform in general.
One thing is for sure, while social media platforms cannot be held accountable for what individuals say, they can be held accountable for policies that could create an environment in which a culture of bad behavior or misinformation can thrive. A very good example of this can be seen with Facebook, whose algorithm often encourages the spread of disinformation due to the high levels of engagement such posts tend to get.
While social media platforms are constantly criticized for the things that end up happening because of their existence, they can at least take comfort in the fact that the majority are on their side in some way. However, the margin by which people believe in themselves is rather slim, which is why these companies always have to be on their toes so that they can handle things should they go wrong.
Read more: Here’s what US consumers have to say about push notifications