Are Social Media Platforms Legally Responsible for What Their Users Post?

The prevalence of social media these days has resulted in it having a huge influence on the global conversation, and many would say that the bulk of its impact has been more or less negative. However, this has also sparked a bit of a debate surrounding whether or not social media platforms can be held legally responsible for what their users are using their platform to talk about. The main crux of this debate is whether or not regular people should be able to sue social media platforms based on something that one of their users might have said.

The Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey of over 4,600 people in the US, and this survey has revealed that a majority of people feel like social media platforms should not get sued for something that a user has said, with the exact percentage being 56%. 41% of respondents apparently felt like they should be able to sue the platform, and it seem that the demarcating line between these two groups has to do with whether or not they tend to use social media in the first place.

59% of people that use social media said that people should not be able to sue, and this number was as low as 47% for people that did not use social media. This seems to indicate that the people that do tend to use social media on a more or less regular basis might have a deeper understanding of what the use of social media platform actually entails. The thing about this is that social media platforms simply give you a place where you can voice your thoughts, and the things that you say are entirely under your control.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that when the question is framed somewhat differently, the answers that we end up getting tend to be rather different too. 53% of respondents felt that the prospect of lawsuits might just make social media platforms restrict bullying on their sites a lot more than might have been the case otherwise. 49% also felt like this would contribute to a lower amount of fake news or misinformation being shared on the platform in general.

One thing is for certain, while social media platforms can’t be held responsible for what individuals say, they can be held responsible for policies that might create an environment wherein a culture of bad behavior or misinformation can be allowed to thrive. A really good example of this can be seen with Facebook, whose algorithm often encourages the spread of misinformation due to the high levels of engagement that such posts tend to get.

While social media platforms are consistently coming under fire for the things that end up happening due to their existence, they can at least take solace in the fact that the majority is on their side in a way. However, the margin by which people believe in them is rather slim which is why these companies need to always be on their toes so that they can handle things if they were to go awry.
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