Bloomberg Technology: California Would Require Twitter, Facebook to Disclose Bots

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Bloomberg Technology


By Selina Wang

California has proposed legislation that would require social platforms like Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. to identify automated accounts, or bots, amid a push by state lawmakers to police the technology companies that have proven vulnerable to manipulation and the spread of fake news.

Bots, which can be purchased or created by individuals or organizations, have been used to inflate influence or amplify divisive opinions in politics and national tragedies. In the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, for example, bots with suspected links to Russia released hundreds of posts to weigh in on the gun control debate. Russia-linked bots on Twitter shared Donald Trump’s tweets almost half a million times during the final months of the 2016 election campaign, compared with fewer than 50,000 retweets for Hillary Clinton’s account.

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States -- especially California, where many of the tech companies are based -- are moving ahead to regulate social media in the face of slow progress from the federal government. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic-dominated state Assembly are working to push through a law that would require election ads on social media to reveal the identity of the buyer. California State Assemblyman Marc Levine, a democrat, introduced a bill similar to Hertzberg’s, requiring tech companies to brand bots with a disclaimer and link those accounts and advertising purchases to "verified human accounts."