On March 22, State Senator Henry Stern amended his Senate Bill 388 to address content management by platform companies. The bill would add Section 1798.138 to the Civil Code.
Section One of the bill would state the intent of the Legislature for major social media platforms to account for, and mitigate, negative externalities from their business activities on the public health, democratic security, mental health, violence, extremism, and other impacts on the people of California.
Section Two of the bill would add Civil Code Section 1798.138. The bill would define the term “platform” to mean any internet website or electronic or digital networking service or account that provides for the posting, display, or exchange of information, including, but not limited to, social media internet websites or other internet websites featuring videos or still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or internet website profiles or locations.
The bill would require a platform company that has 25 million or more unique monthly visitors or users for a majority of the preceding 12 months to report to the Department of Justice by April 1, 2022, and each year thereafter, the following information:
- The amount of money, labor hours, and other efforts expended to prevent, mitigate the effects of, and remove potentially harmful content.
- Any internal accounting of the negative externalities associated with the platform company’s business activities.
- Quantified statistics on how much content is being reviewed, how much content is targeted for removal, and how much content is actually removed due to breach of terms-of-service agreement issues or other issues.
- The categories the platform places content into that the platform targets for removal and the corresponding number of postings that fall into each category.
In addition, the Department of Justice would be required to make the information reported to it available to consumers. A platform company would also be required to report the information specified above to the Legislature and the California Privacy Protection Agency. A platform company would also have to develop policies to assess and mitigate the negative externalities reported.
SB 388 would require a platform company to develop an “acceptable use” policy for users. Finally, the bill would require a platform company to remove illegal content from its platform within 24 hours of the posting of the illegal content.
This bill is expected to be heard in its first policy committee in April.
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