Free speech and social media: As issues related to inciting posts and free speech on social media are cropping up worldwide, the need for regulation of content on social media platforms has become highly important. This became evident with the US Capitol violence incident as well as the farmers protests in India. Amid this, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has said that there is a need for clearer laws and rules to look at whether controversial accounts, like that of former US President Donald Trump, should operate on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. He said that these social media services should not be allowed to make these decisions regarding free speech themselves.
Nadella said that unilateral actions by private social media companies to this end are not stable in the long run, and therefore, a framework of norms and laws needs to be set in place. He added that he as a citizen would not advocate for an individual CEO of any of these companies to make such decisions regarding social media, which has now become crucial for the upholding of a democratic structure in the long run.
Social media is a platform where people share their views, opinions and even news and facts and it has now become a source of consumption of such news as well. Hence, these platforms lead to people finding solidarity for their own views, especially when it comes to politics. However, this also leads to polarisation, since people choose to ignore facts or views advocating the other side. As a result of this gradual polarisation, abuse and harassment has reached an all time high on these platforms, and amid the politically charged scenarios all over the world from the US to Russia and from India to Myanmar, there is a need to draw the line where a post can be considered an opinion and where it turns into incitement of violence. As a result, hinging this decision on any single individual, even if it is the CEO of any of these platforms, can pose as too much of a risk.
While Microsoft is directly not involved in running any social media platform, it is one of the cloud-computing platforms and has been roped into the entire debate over the deplatforming of certain social media accounts, apps and individual voices.
Microsoft backs call for search engines paying for news
Meanwhile, Microsoft, which has been backing Australia’s call for news outlets being paid by search engines for news stories published online, has asked other countries across the world to follow Australia’s lead. Australia has proposed a legislation that requires companies like Facebook and Google to compensate news outlets for their stories. While this proposed legislation is being opposed by Facebook as well as Google, Microsoft has offered to fill the void if Google decides to go through its threat of turning off the search engine in Australia.
Microsoft’s call for all countries to follow in Australia’s footsteps came after several people asked Microsoft if it would back such a legislation if it were proposed in the US, the EU countries or Canada, and it asserted that its stance would remain the same.
However, all eyes are currently on US President Joe Biden to see if he would back Australia for its proposed legislation, which is now before the Parliament, or whether he would follow after his predecessor Trump on his decision to oppose the proposal. Microsoft, on the other hand, has said that the US should bring a similar proposal in the country, instead of objecting to Australia’s proposal which requires the tech companies to back free press.