Elon Musk’s absence or presence doesn’t make any difference, Social Media moderation seems to be more complicated than it was thought to be

In the Future of Speech Online 2022 conference which was hosted by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), a panel of content moderators advised that platforms and governments should not harm freedom of speech by doing anything which means not imposing any laws or policies that may cause hindrance in freedom of speech.

As people are getting worried about their data and privacy, they are also pretty much concerned about how different platforms are building policies to moderate content. Not just the companies, governments seem to make users angrier as users fear that their freedom of speech is being suppressed by force.

It would have been much better if the panel would have just tweeted it simply that governments should impose laws, not on social media rather banning tech giants from content moderation.

The problem that many profit-based social apps face is that they can’t let the inappropriate content spread on their apps as it affects the community but by doing this, they are being questioned over how an individual’s right to freedom of speech is being affected.

According to the deputy director of CDT’s Free Expression Project, Emma Llansó's views on social apps’ moderation, she said that apps are doing more moderation or simply removing more content than state laws would have ever been.

What’s the truth – Are social platforms banning people from speech freedom?

Since Elon Musk’s owned Twitter, his actions proved to be unpredictable in terms of moderating content over Twitter. One can see that he intends to reverse the past decisions, which, for him, were not content moderation but rather speech suppression, as he said that the blocking of the New York Post story about Hunter Biden in October 2020, was not rightful. But on the other side, Mr. Musk remained under criticism as he unbanned thousands of Twitter users who had violated Twitter’s old community rules that Musk has altered.

According to the founder and director of equality, Dmitri Vitaliev, 75% of the requests that his Montreal platform-security firm gets about the deletion of content from its clients’ sites are wrong and incorrect. This shows how people report incorrectly or purposefully submit fake reports which makes it evident that social moderation can be used for malpractice too.

The above matter was also discussed by the director of the Media and Democracy Program Director at Common Cause, Yosef Getachew, he said that platforms will face such issues of false reporting as there are many loopholes in the policies of the apps that some people are taking advantage of.

A statement by Corynne McSherry, legal director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that overclocking is mostly certain in cases that are reported and are found to be correct but then the process of overclocking is criticized a lot.

Twitter doesn’t want States to interfere

At the beginning of this year, Florida and Texas provided solutions for problems regarding social media moderation and declared that they ban large social sites from moderating any content that depicts a political opinion. But the Supreme Court has shown that it will ask to how much extent these new laws are legal and doesn’t these laws will violate the company’s rights according to the First Amendment of banning content if it doesn’t follow the company’s policy.

According to the panelists, the Court would deny such laws, otherwise, there’ll be a social media where racist hate speech will be legal.

Blake Reid, director of the Samuelson-Glushko Technology Clinic at Silicon Flatirons Center, which is a think tank at the University of Colorado Law School, says that even Elon Musk doesn’t want these laws to come into action and cause legal hate speech. He further said that there are many problems that Musk is trying to deal with to increase Twitter’s revenue, which will become harder if his actions become illegal in case of such laws, as Musk intends to remove bots from Twitter.

It's not just the governments that insist on having a better content moderation policy, but the app stores and payment-processing services are also a major threat. Musk said that Twitter might be removed by Apple from the App Store as the tech giant considers Twitter’s content moderation policies as faulty. On the other hand, many payment processing firms have denied transactions for OnlyFans, as they say, they don’t want their companies to be used for such payment-processing, according to OnlyFans, and they are considering banning porn on their platform.

According to McSherry, he said that this could be critical for social apps to grow as governments would interfere in payment systems as it is easier than doing any other thing.

Blake Reid also commented that App stores become another access point to control social media and so does McSherry. One thing that should be noticed here is that the iPhone and iPad are distributed by Apple which makes the company have a better control over these devices.

McSherry keeps on saying that by bringing competition to these markets, getting rid of laws could be easier. She also said that app stores can file a legal case against anyone who tries to install software that is banned on that platform/phone as per Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s clause.

But bringing competition to a market that has a very limited number of competitors is not an easy job for policymakers. This marks the end of the discussion as there’s a lot to discuss which makes it hard to address every question.

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