Senate bill would add friction to social media posting

The Social Media NUDGE Act would also prompt the FTC to study social media addiction.

POOL New / reuters

Another bill has been introduced in the Senate that takes aim at the spread of misinformation on social media platforms. The proposed legislation seeks to direct the Federal Trade Commission to look into ways of reducing "the harm of algorithmic amplification and social media addiction on covered platforms."

The full text of the bipartisan bill, which was co-authored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) hasn't been published on the Senate website as yet. According to The Verge, were the Social Media NUDGE Act to become law, the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine would look into content-neutral ways to add "friction" to sharing things on social media platforms. The legislation would prompt the FTC to codify the findings and possibly require social media platforms to implement them.

The overarching goal is to impede the spread of misinformation and other harmful material. Some measures along these lines are already in place. Twitter, for instance, asks users if they want to read the contents of a link before retweeting it. The idea is that people will be more informed about what they're sharing with their followers.

The Social Media NUDGE Act has been referred to the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Unlike similar proposals, it wouldn't require any changes to Section 230, a provision of the Communications Decency Act 1996 that shields online platforms from accountability for their users' activity.

A bill that House Democrats introduced in October aims to limit Section 230 protections for "malicious" algorithms by making platforms liable when algorithms are "knowingly or recklessly" used to recommend content that results in physical or "severe emotional" harm. Another bill that was introduced in November would direct platforms to offer users an option to view content without being impacted by recommendation algorithms.

In the Senate, Klobuchar co-sponsored a bill that was submitted last February, which seeks to limit the protections social media platforms have under Section 230. None of these bills have passed their respective committees as yet.