Calif. bill would create commission to monitor 'fake news'

By Ray Downs  |  June 26, 2018 at 9:58 PM
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June 26 (UPI) -- California lawmakers are considering two bills aimed at fighting so-called "fake news," including one that would create a government commission to monitor information shared online.

SB 1424, introduced by Democratic State Sen. Richard Pan, seeks to add language for the commission onto existing law that prohibits false advertising. That commission would include "at least one member of the Department of Justice, as well as Internet-based social media providers, civil liberties advocates, and First Amendment scholars to study the problem of the spread of false information through Internet-based social media platforms, and draft a model strategic plan for Internet-based social media platforms to use to mitigate this problem."

Pan's bill would require the commission to be established by April 1, 2019.

The bill's language does not specify how "false information" would be defined or what medium, such as news articles, videos or memes, would be included.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation called the bill "flawed" and "misguided," in part because the First Amendment protects political speech that is false.

California lawmakers are considering SB 1001, nicknamed the "Bot Bill" because aims to prevent bots disguised as humans from spreading information.

"We just want people to know that it's a computer. It's like a Betty Crocker seal of approval, or whatever. That Facebook has to say, 'This is a computer talking to you,'" the bill's main author, Democratic State Sen. Bob Hertzberg told Capital Public Radio.

To promote his anti-bot bill, Hertzberg created a bot account on Twitter that "will create automated posts, based on modern research, to explain why this bill is important and to demonstrate that bots, when properly identified, can exist positively in the social media ecosystem."

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