A state senator from New York has filed a bill seeking to hold social media companies accountable for promoting disinformation, eating disorders, and “other unlawful content that could harm others”.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) sponsored the bill in order to punish social media companies such as Facebook and Instagram if they peddle disinformation on their platforms.

“We need real world solutions to the growing problems of online disinformation and hate speech. Throwing your hands up and saying nothing can be done isn’t sufficient. People’s lives are endangered everyday and nobody’s being held accountable,” Hoylman said.

It was learned that under Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, tech companies are protected from being held liable for the content posted by users – and how they police it.

To counter this law, the bill adds a section to the state’s penal code, adding a new cause of action for public nuisance allowing the state Attorney General, city corporation counsels or private citizens to bring lawsuits after companies or individuals for “knowingly or recklessly” contributing to things like promoting self-harm or vaccine disinformation.

“No person, by conduct either unlawful in itself or unreasonable under all circumstances, shall knowingly or recklessly create, maintain or contribute to a condition in New York state that endangers the safety or health of the public through the promotion of content, including through the use of algorithms or solely automatic systems that prioritize content by a method other than solely by time and date such content was created,” the bill state.

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