Although the legal case focuses on the United States, it may lead other countries to regulate Internet platforms, especially social media. Blockchain technology allows for protecting and proving the identity of Internet users without having to reveal sensitive data.
It is increasingly hard to know whether people interact with friends or enemies (bots) on the Internet. The problem largely stems from the inability of leading tech companies, like Google and Facebook, to verify and protect privacy.
However, things might change after the Supreme Court hears the González – Google case, which could reshape Section 230. Since it is hard to imagine a scenario where social media would not die, blockchain technology could replace them.
The Problem Starts because the Law Protects Social Media
Section 230 states that web platforms are not legally responsible for user posts. Therefore, social media like Facebook and Twitter are free to profit from anything people share.
The plaintiff in the abovementioned Supreme Court case believes Internet platforms are responsible for the death of his daughter. He believes algorithms developed by YouTube recommend ISIS videos, leading to recruitment and attacks by terrorist organizations.
If a YouTube user posts defamatory or violent content, the platform can show it before being able to take any action. While determining whether the content violates the law, it can cause much damage, as Section 230 protects the platform.
Implications for the Future of Social Media Worldwide
Although the case focuses on a US law, it raises issues that may have a global impact. Other countries, like France and the UK, struggle to regulate Internet platforms, especially social media.
France ordered manufacturers to install parental controls on computers and devices and banned collecting data from children for commercial purposes. In the UK, the authorities found that the Instagram algorithm led a teenage girl to commit suicide.
Authoritarian regimes increase censorship and manipulation efforts through trolls and bots to sow misinformation and mistrust. That situation is unavoidable due to the lack of a viable form of identity verification for most social media accounts.
A world holding social networks responsible for content posted by their users would require armies of editors and content moderators. The task seems impossible due to the high volume of content, which could benefit traditional media organizations.
This Situation Is an Excellent Opportunity for Blockchain Technology
In 1996, the Internet consisted of relatively few static websites and message boards. No one could predict that its growth would cause people to question the concepts of freedom and security.
There are fundamental rights regarding digital and physical activities of people, including their privacy. Therefore, a mechanism to separate facts from misinformation and honest people from fraudsters is necessary.
Some experts argue that the Internet may have a healthier future through compromises between privacy and security. However, it would be possible to achieve both by ambitious and intentional efforts.
Blockchain technology allows for protecting and proving the identity of Internet users simultaneously. Zero-knowledge technology implies that people can verify information, such as age or title, without revealing sensitive data.
That will benefit everyone in their business, personal, or family lives. Schools and social media will be safer, adult content will have restrictions by age, and misinformation will be easier to locate.
By Alexander Salazar