As discussed in your editorial of July 20 (“Our View: Biden’s gaffe tells truth about Facebook”), the spread of disinformation on social media has become an especially acute problem in the age of COVID and can be deadly when it discourages vaccination. But the regulation of speech on social media is fraught with First Amendment concerns, especially when government officials, in this case the president, pressure private companies to censor content.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg insists that Facebook is not a news organization, thus dodging responsibility. But a recent survey has shown that 55 percent of American adults receive part or all of their news from Facebook, and the number is rising. Perhaps more focus should be placed on reducing that number.

If Mr. Zuckerberg is sincere, he would not mind a requirement that he post a disclaimer to appear on a banner upon login, such as: “Facebook is not a news organization and does not edit content, verify facts or issue corrections. Fake news, lies and disinformation are frequently published here. We cannot eradicate them. Those seeking truth and accuracy are advised to consult a reliable source.”

There is precedent for such a requirement in the warnings that manufacturers must affix to products that can be hazardous to health and safety. Few would consider it to be government overreach, and free expression would not be infringed. But consumers of the news would be informed, and we might all be better served.

Michael P. Bacon
Westbrook


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