New Jersey The Latest To Try To Regulate Social Networks... For The Children

from the please-make-it-stop dept

We've seen a number of attempts by politicians to use the latest "moral panic" around social networks to pass regulations against them. A popular one at the federal level which still (thankfully) has gone nowhere is DOPA, which would require schools and libraries to block social networks. However, state politicians want to get in on the grandstanding as well. Politicians in New Jersey are pushing a law that would require social networks to include a "report abuse" button on web pages and then would make those social networks responsible to investigate each reported "abuse" or face liability.

The unintended consequences of such a law would be awful. Basically, to protect liability, many "social networks" (and the term may be broadly applied to an awful lot of websites out there today) would most likely just shut down the accounts of those accused of "abuse." From a simple liability standpoint that makes sense. Leaving the account up just opens you up to a lawsuit. Furthermore, the button would likely be abused itself. Don't like someone? Click the "report abuse" button! And, no matter what, it makes no sense to put the burden of investigating things on the sites themselves. Hopefully this law goes nowhere, but don't be surprised to see similar proposals pop up elsewhere as well.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

    Ryan, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 11:10am


    I don't understand why social networks would even bother with this law, as long as it remains confined to the state in scope and they don't have servers there. How are they bound to this law? How would new Jersey enforce it? Are they just going to censor the site for everybody in the state?


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 11:19am

    waste of taxpayer money

    Wonder how they are going to pay for "report abuse" button.

    People will abuse the "report abuse" button. Secondly, if a computer is abusing you, just unplug it! Bad Computer!


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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 11:25am

    One sided

    Why is it that all these laws are so one-sided? As with the DMCA, there doesn't seem to be an equivalent method of dealing with people abusing their new-found powers.

    Mike said before, somewhere, that three-strikes-and-out might be palatable if the accusers were held to the same standard. Made three false claims? Sorry, Warner, you no longer have internet access.

    Ditto that for this case. If you hit the abuse button X times and it's not an abuse, you get kicked out. (I've been saying for years now that youtube should have taken that line to deal with their DMCA complaints.)


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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 1:27pm

    Is abuse == having feelings hurt?

    That's where this is going to lead to, because I can't see how a website can hurt someone.

    "It caused mental anguish!" someone will probably complain as they push the button. "I'm being abused!"

    Sorry Charlie, but that isn't abuse.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Nick (profile), Apr 4th, 2009 @ 12:20am

    Don't you just hate it when law enforcement gets lazy and make laws to keep people from being unlawful? This is not freedom. If we are not free to break the law we are not free.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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