New Bill Aims to Crack Down on Fake News Spread on Social Media


A new bill is making its way through the California Legislature that's designed to crack down on social media companies that advertise or recommend false, misleading or defamatory material online.

SB 896 by Senator Dr. Richard Pan, is designed to hold social media companies like Facebook,Twitter and YouTube to the same truth in advertising liability standards that traditional broadcast and media companies must follow when reporting news.

“Newspapers, radio and television are all held accountable for the accuracy in advertisements that they run, and it makes no sense that social media companies are shielded from such standards,” said Pan, a State Senator who represents the Sacramento region. "Americans are turning to social media as their primary news source more than ever and the companies should assume some of the same responsibilities as traditional news sources."

The bill would also provide a process for the social media companies to correct and/or remove false, misleading or defamatory material that's being distributed online and boosted by search algorithms.

A similar bill was vetoed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018, after he called it 'not necessary,' citing numerous studies by academic and policy groups who study the spread of false information.

The bill's language is still being worked on, but Pan says he believes it should require a mechanism for companies to issue corrections and remove content that contains falsehoods.

"We want to have people have their full First Amendment rights, with that right comes responsibility," said Pan, adding that the bill is not aimed at censoring people for having a different point of view.

"Social media companies should be as accountable for the information that they not only platform, they make money off of, as any other media company," Pan said. "And I don't think that's censorship."

Photo: Getty Images

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