Bill requiring websites to disclose reasons for displaying content amended to create study group

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday passed legislation that would require a social media internet website, as defined, to prominently display a link to a disclose to users how the social media Internet Web site determines what content is displayed to the user in the course of using the social media site. The bill also would require the website to disclose how it verifies or checks factual information.

Before passing SB 1424 by Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) in a 5-1 vote, the committee amended the bill to require the underlying issues to be studied by a group to be established by the California Attorney General.

Opposed by CNPA, the Chamber of Commerce and several internet companies, the measure was introduced to provide social media users with more information about how websites prioritize stories and check for accuracy in story content. The bill’s broad definition of social media web site captured newspapers as well as most other web sites that exist.

The Attorney General is charged with establishing an advisory group consisting of at least one member of the Department of Justice, internet-based social media providers, civil liberties advocates, and First Amendment scholars, to do all of the following:

(a) Study the problem of the spread of false information through internet-based social media platforms.
(b) Draft a model strategic plan for internet-based social media platforms to use to mitigate against the spread of false information through their platforms.
(c) Draft potential legislation for mitigating the spread of false information through social media, if the advisory group deems it appropriate. The advisory group may consult with the Legislative Counsel and the California Law Revision Commission, among others, for this purpose.
(d) Not later than December 31, 2019, present the results of the study, the model strategic plan, and the proposed legislation, if any, to the Legislature and to the Assembly and Senate Committees on Judiciary.