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The FTC and Social Media Regulation
24th March 2022 • The Sunday Show • Tech Policy Press
00:00:00 00:29:49

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The United States Congress has before it dozens of bills intended to rein in social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. This raft of proposed legislation is in response to various harms that have come to light over the past few years, including dangers to democracy, harassment and hate speech, concerns over safety (especially for children), and various ways the platforms reinforce inequities and permit discrimination. 

One agency in the federal government arguably has the power to take action on these issues with its current authority- the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC. But there are a variety of legislative proposals that would clarify the FTC’s role with regard to social media, and even provide it with substantial new resources to police the harms these massive companies produce. 

The NYU Center for Business and Human Rights, with which I have collaborated in the past, last month produced a substantial report detailing principles and policy goals intended to clarify the debate in Congress and shape an agenda for the FTC, recommending that Congress direct the FTC to oversee the social media industry under the consumer protection authority that the agency already exercises in its regulation of other industries. 

To learn more about the report and its recommendations, I spoke to Paul Barrett, the Center’s Deputy Director. Paul joined the Center in September 2017 after working for more than three decades as a journalist and author focusing on the intersection of business, law, and society.