Democrats Introduce Bill To Address Health Misinformation On Social Media


Photo: DENIS CHARLET/AFP via Getty Images

Two Senate Democrats introduced a bill Thursday (July 22) that would hold social media platforms accountable for misinformation spread on the sites during public health crises. 

Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Ben Ray Luján proposed legislation that would change a landmark internet law that historically protected social media sites from legal liability for third-party posts. 

Klobuchar’s proposed legislation, named the Health Misinformation Act, would create an exception to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act –– the section that has shielded social media platforms from being liable –– and allow social media platforms to be held accountable for misinformation specifically around an “existing public health emergency” spread on their sites.

The Health Misinformation Act gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to define what qualifies as misinformation during such a scenario. 

“The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how lethal misinformation can be and it is our responsibility to take action,” Klobuchar said in a statement, according to The Hill

White House officials, including President Joe Biden and US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, have called out online misinformation as being a major driver in stagnant vaccination rates around the country and a "serious threat to public health."

Online misinformation about COVID-19 and even voting were found to specifically target Black Americans. As cases of the Delta variant spike around the country, officials are pushing to get more people vaccinated, especially those at highest risk.

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