Social media has become a significant part of our lives. It is hard to imagine life without it. The Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram apps are on the phones of millions of people worldwide. The result is that social media companies like Facebook have access to an enormous amount of information about us, including things like who we talk to, what we eat for breakfast, or where we go on vacation. Yet Facebook regulation is complex because it does not fall under any specific regulatory body, yet its power continues to grow as they amass more data about our daily lives. There are some options for regulating Facebook, but none seem perfect at this point, so there will always be challenges with regulating Facebook.

The case for regulation

Facebook can destroy a company quickly with the stroke of a key. Facebook can swiftly remove a company page, and accounts are nearly impossible to regain. Even if something goes wrong with your Facebook, there are limited ways you can sue them for damages, unlike other companies with more specific regulations that hold their actions accountable in court. Facebook is therefore difficult to regulate.

There are some options for regulating Facebook, but none seem perfect at this point, so there will always be challenges with regulating Facebook. The best option would be a combination of regulations that hold social media companies accountable and do not stifle innovation.

Limit Facebook’s influence over the news media by regulating their ability to buy media companies.

Hold social media platforms accountable for the information they display to users using their algorithms while giving them the freedom to innovate. Also, require them to report algorithmic changes and how these changes affect the platform’s interactions with content creators.

Regulate Facebook by requiring transparency about data collection and distribution. Allow users to know precisely how data is being used and by whom.

Limit Facebook’s power over media companies by regulating their algorithms that determine what content gets seen on the site. Regulation could do this in various ways, but one possible scenario would allow social platforms to hold all rights to publish news stories while still allowing media companies to put out their own stories. Regulations would then require Facebook to show all news, not just the ones that fit particular biases of theirs.

Verification

Require Facebook and Instagram to have consistent and public criteria for account verification. Regulations would prevent social media companies from discriminating against users based on their own biases, and Facebook would treat all accounts equally.

Require Facebook to be regulated by an outside agency such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), ensuring they follow through with all regulations depending upon how serious a violation is. By doing so, they will be more inclined to follow the rules. The social media platforms would verify authentic accounts so they would not need to go through another venue for verification. 

Factors such as race, corporate bias, age of Facebook employees, or educational level of Facebook employees should not factor into their decision to verify an account.

Accounts that are not authentic would need to be taken off the unverified until they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are indeed real accounts.

In removing the celebrity status of verification, all social media accounts will be equals instead of appearing to endorse verified accounts and to diminish others.

Attempting to control Journalists

Facebook has a program that claims to substantiate actual journalists with their journalist registration process. The monopoly will give this account special privileges and protections, whereas other journalists may lose credibility. This action which falls under Facebook’s bias is why their process should be regulated.

Facebook has the power to control journalists under its existing system because the social media giant can revoke a journalist’s status if the social media monopoly does not like or disagree with a story. 

It is effectively enforcing implied censorship.

While Facebook tries to control journalists and give special treatment to those they choose, every journalist deserves equal protection under the law regardless of their social status or how many followers they have on any other platform that Facebook may not own. The same rules must apply across all platforms for this regulation to hold weight.

By Warith Niallah

Warith Niallah is the Managing Editor of FTC Publications Newswire. He is also a writer and photographer and has been in professional journalism, computer science & information systems, production, and public information since 1988. Warith serves as the Chief Executive Officer of FTC Publications, Inc.