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California is trying to pass a law to fine people for "false information"

Published: January 1, 2021
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On December 7, the first day of the California Legislature’s 2021-22 Session, Assembly Member Ed Chau introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 35, which would require disclosure of social media policies. AB 35 would add Chapter 22.4 (commencing with Section 22595) to Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code.

AB 35 would require a person that operates a social media platform to disclose whether or not that social media platform has a policy or mechanism in place to address the spread of misinformation. AB 35 would require the disclosure to be made easily accessible on the social media platform’s website and mobile application.

In addition, AB 35 would authorize the Attorney General or any district attorney, county counsel, or city attorney to enforce violations of its provisions and would subject a person to a civil penalty of $1,000 for each day the person is in violation of the bill’s provisions.

Section One of the bill would add Chapter 22.4 (commencing with Section 22595) to Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code. Chapter 22.4 would be titled “false information.” Section 22595 would require a social media platform to disclose whether or not it has a policy or mechanism in place to address the spread of misinformation with respect to, at a minimum, all of the following:

  • Reducing the spread of misinformation that contributes to the risk of imminent violence or physical harm.
  • Reducing the spread of harmful, verifiably inauthentic content.
  • Practices intended to deceptively and substantially manipulate or disrupt the behavior of users on the social media platform.

In addition, a social media platform must make the required disclosure easily accessible on the social media platform’s internet website and mobile application. The term “social media platform” does not include electronic mail. Instead, the term means “an internet-based service through which users develop a persistent virtual network or community comprised of other users for the purpose of sharing information, ideas, news reports, and other content that allows individuals to do all of the following:

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