Op-Ed: Supporting Democracy through Content-Neutral Social Media Policies
Christopher L. Quarles
Corresponding author: email@example.com
Keywords: Social Media Policy; content moderation; information infrastructure; de-amplification
The internet and social media carry vast amounts of new information every second. To make these flows manageable, platforms engage in content moderation, using algorithms and humans to decide which content to recommend and which to remove. These decisions have profound effects on our elections, democratic debate, and human well-being. The U.S. government cannot directly regulate these decisions due to the scale of the content and the First Amendment. Rather than focusing exclusively on whether or what content gets moderated, policy-makers should focus on ensuring that incentives and processes create an information infrastructure that can support a robust democracy. These policies are most likely to be content-neutral. Three content-neutral mechanisms are promising targets for policy: process, transparency, and de-amplification.
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Christopher L. Quarles is a PhD candidate in the School of Information, a researcher with the Center for Ethics, Society & Computing, and a fellow at the Stone Center for Inequality Dynamics. His current research focuses on how information technology affects how we group ourselves, and on systemic trends in inequality and opportunity. In the long term, he hopes to have a practical impact on the way our information infrastructure evolves to support humanity.
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