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Experts call for social media content regulation bill

Social media companies must be required to disclose their content regulation standards on their platforms to ensure freedom of expression

  • By Hsieh Chun-ling / Journalist

The National Communications Commission (NCC) is expected to propose a digital communications bill to ensure social media platforms have transparent mechanisms to review online content, lawmakers and media experts said last Tuesday.

The call came after the official YouTube channel for the Golden Horse Award-winning Hong Kong documentary Revolution of our time (時代革命), which tells the story of the Hong Kong protests in 2019 and 2020, was taken down for six hours the day before the film premiered on February 25, due to an alleged influx of complaints about its content.

The documentary’s official Facebook fan page has reportedly been taken down and will not appear in searches for the film’s title.

Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱) said social media companies often claim they have no way to verify the authenticity of content on their platforms whenever they are asked to suppress misinformation, allowing it to spread across the internet. .

However, they also often block content without disclosing the standards they use, he said.

“We are asking social media companies to disclose the standards they use to review content on their platforms,” he said.

Last year, the NCC unveiled the legal framework for a bill, which would require internet service providers to disclose their review procedures, but did not set a timetable for its completion, it said. -he declares.

Platform operators have the power to control free speech, raising the question of whether politicians or political parties can take advantage of the situation to manipulate public opinion, said Christy Chiang (江雅綺), professor associated with National Taipei University of Technology, representing Taiwan Law and Technology Association. .

The Facebook page of Professional Technology Temple (PTT) founder Ethan Tu (杜奕瑾) has been banned for using a profile cover photo of the Ukrainian national flag, said lawyer Huang Di-ying (黃帝穎), representing the Taiwan Forever Association legal reform group.

A U.S. court ruling forced Facebook to release its content review standards and offer users a series of remedial procedures, he said, adding that Taiwan does not yet have such regulations.

“Companies have corporate responsibilities, and the government is obligated to oversee them and ensure that free speech is protected,” he said.

Facebook censors speech, as evidenced by the documentary case, said DPP lawmaker Kuo Kuo-wen (郭國文), adding that it fuels social division.

“The soon-to-be-established digital development department should help address these issues, whether it’s preventing the spread of misinformation or making Facebook’s algorithm open and transparent,” he said. .

Freedom of speech is important to democracy, and Facebook censorship must not exceed national laws, said DPP lawmaker Lin Chu-yin (林楚茵), quoting Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) , adding that Su asked government agencies to make legal reviews soon. .

The Fair Trade Commission should support consumers by requiring platforms to disclose their suppression algorithms and not apply them arbitrarily, Lin said.

Facebook has such great power in Taiwan because the country has long allowed foreign digital platforms to benefit from regulations without taking responsibility for their actions, said Shen Jung-chin (沈榮欽), assistant professor at the School of Administrative Studies in Taiwan. Atkinson College in York. University in Canada.

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