The Canadian government wants to start regulating social media giants
With 2019 almost in the books and a big four years ahead for Justin Trudeau, Canada's federal cabinet ministers are starting to receive their mandate letters from the recently re-elected PM.
As more and more ministerial mandate letters go live on the government's website, more and more interesting details are revealed about what the minority Liberal Government wants during Trudeau's second term.
From banning all military-style assault rifles and outlawing "conversion therapy" to a full renewal of the Canadian coast guard's fleet, the mandates publicized so far are varied and plentiful.
One specific instruction within Trudeau's mandate letter to Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, is getting more attention than most right now in certain circles for how bold (and perhaps tricky to implement) it is.
Canadian Heritage @s_guilbeault and ISI @NavdeepSBains mandated to create new regulations for social media companies addressing online harms. 3/6 https://t.co/rbV2CCwrWf https://t.co/iN1kd1KoTA pic.twitter.com/6rh0g34cf0— Michael Geist (@mgeist) December 13, 2019
"Create new regulations for social media platforms, starting with a requirement that all platforms remove illegal content, including hate speech, within 24 hours or face significant penalties," reads the mandate.
"This should include other online harms such as radicalization, incitement to violence, exploitation of children, or creation or distribution of terrorist propaganda."
It's an interesting idea, but will big tech play along? And furthermore, do they have to? Should they?
The concept of any government regulating social media platforms has proven increasingly controversial and divisive lately, all over the world.
Minister of Canadian Heritage Mandate Letter | Prime Minister of Canada. What if his hate speech is my free speech ... hashtag big brother ... hashtag 1984 ... at least I’m not the conspiracy theorist anymore https://t.co/jInVFHtNal— bearbait (@hoofin_it_hiker) December 13, 2019
Some critics are already crying "censorship," while others are pointing out that such a task could be all but impossible to carry out.
I mean, if dissidents can still get their messages across in China, where the government actively censors online content, will Canada be able to fare any better?
Like the U.S., Canada appears to be aiming toward governing huge tech platforms such as Facebook and Twitter through fines, as opposed to laws.
Only time will tell if it actually works to combat hateful speech online in Canada, where the relationship between tech giants and government officials remains murky and complicated.
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