Government to propose tougher social media rules

The government is considering introducing stricter regulations for social media platforms to combat the spread of false and misleading information.

This comes after an expert panel at the Telecommunications Ministry concluded that self-regulation measures by social media companies were insufficient.

The panel’s proposal, which is expected to be published soon, requires platforms to take stronger action to remove unlawful disinformation.

This includes creating dedicated reporting channels through which users can report harmful content, deciding to remove content within a specified time period, and suspending the accounts of repeat violators.

Such measures will also be crucial to demonetizing harmful but legal posts and stopping their spread.

The panel’s recommendations also take into account the need to protect users’ freedom of expression.

It calls on the government to establish transparent procedures for ordering platforms to remove content. This includes disclosing details of user requests to remove posts, such as when and why they were made.

The panel’s proposal also calls for social media companies to develop and publish clear guidelines for removing content, as well as to disclose the number of staff working on such matters.

Other recommended measures include labeling harmful or inappropriate posts with warning labels and limiting their visibility in search results.

The commission’s recommendation comes after the government expressed concern over the spread of false requests for help on social media during the January earthquake on the Noto Peninsula.

The telecommunications ministry urged platforms to remove such posts but had no legal authority to order such action.

Beginning in February, the panel interviewed representatives from social media companies including Meta and X, formerly Twitter.

He criticizes these platforms for failing to provide adequate answers to the questions asked and for a lack of accountability and transparency.

The think tank says the “attention economy,” in which social media users generate revenue by posting sensational content, is a major factor contributing to the spread of disinformation.

The report concluded that comprehensive measures need to be taken to ensure a healthy information environment online.

(The article was written by Kenro Kuroda and Takeshi Narabe.)