Group activity: Who Should Be Responsible For Stopping The Spread Of The Unbefitting Content On The Internet?

Q3: Bullying, harassment, violent content, hate, porn, and other problematic content circulates on digital platforms. Who should be responsible for stopping the spread of this content and how?

Group members: Xingfei Liao, Yihan Xu, Lan Yang, Keying Lin, Peixuan Wu

  •  Preventing bullying, harassment, violent content, hatred, pornography and other problematic content from spreading wantonly on the Internet is never just a problem that an organization should solve. It is a project that requires the internet platform and the government to govern jointly. The platform should strengthen the warning and deletion of users and posts with problems, while the government is to formulate a series of relevant treaties to limit everyone’s behaviour and give reasonable explanations for misinformation.
  • Many people do not seem to realize how much content falls into the “legal but scary” category, which for many people is offensive or morally objectionable but protected by the First Amendment. This blind spot can seriously distort policymakers’ expectations of the consequences of platform regulation. Ignoring the vast amount of speech in legal but horrific categories leads to proposals for platform regulation that are doomed to failure. And Online speech can be regulated through platform rulemaking. This is the current approach under the First Amendment, aided by Section 230 of the Communications Regulation Act. Beyond that, platforms can give users more power to decide what kind of legitimate speech they want to see. This idea is embedded in the rarely discussed provisions of Article 230. The recent proposal to introduce a competing ‘middleware’ content review service could update this approach in the platform era.
  •  The government should be responsible for stopping the spread of unbefitting content. The reason is that the government can implement policies to spread information on the Internet and promote the rule of law in disseminating information on the Internet. The existence of uncomfortable content on many platforms may be due to the fact that the state has not enacted laws that explicitly prohibit the dissemination of pornographic and violent content on the Internet. The government can effectively use its control to promote Internet information content management, guidance, coordination, and urge relevant departments to strengthen Internet information content management and investigate and deal with illegal websites following the law. When explicit legal provisions are established, internet users and platforms will also naturally regulate what they do on internet platforms, and inappropriate content will slowly decrease. This is because people will know that the government regulates everything they do on the internet and that every wrong statement or action they take may involve breaking the law.

    hyperlink reference: Freedom House. (n.d.). Policy Recommendations: Internet Freedom.


  •  For example, Germany published a law regulating social media in early 2018 that companies with websites with more than 2 million registered users must comply with. These social media companies must set up procedures to check the content of their websites where complaints have been lodged and remove clearly illegal information within 24 hours. And the EU is also considering measures to tackle illegal content on social networks, particularly horror videos. Any social networking platform that fails to remove terrorist content within one hour will face stiff fines. In addition, in 2015, Australia implemented enhanced cybersecurity laws requiring social media companies to remove harassing and bullying content. And in 2018, the legislation was expanded to include revenge pornographic graphic content.Reference: BBC News. (2020). Social media: How do other governments regulate it? h-CN&_x_tr_hl=zh-CN&_x_tr_pto=sc
  •  The spread of bullying, harassment, violent content, hatred, pornography and other problematic content on the Internet requires corresponding companies and governments to solve and control them. The government should be responsible for stopping the spread of inappropriate content. Preventing such problems requires the joint governance of platforms, companies, and governments. Platforms should protect users such as firewall information protection, and the government will formulate laws and regulations for digital platforms to limit these behaviors.