Strategy 5 Build Civic Information Architecture that Supports Common Purpose

Public-Interest Mandate for Social Media

Strategy 5
Build Civic Information Architecture that Supports Common Purpose

Recommendation 5.3

To supplement experiments with public media platforms (Recommendation 5.2), establish a public-interest mandate for for-profit social media platforms. Analogous to zoning requirements, this mandate would require such for-profit digital platform companies to support the development of designated public-friendly digital spaces on their own platforms.

Read in the Report

A public-interest mandate for social media

The United States should begin experimenting with ways private social media and other online spaces might serve the public interest. The FCC’s public-interest standard was established to balance commercial interests with democratic interests, first with radio and then on television. The time has come to build on that model to establish a public-interest mandate for for-profit social media platforms.

A high-level working group should be formed to explore a public-interest mandate for private digital platforms, with the goal of passing legislation within a few years. By 2026, public-friendly spaces should be prevalent even on private social media platforms as a complement to experiments with public media platforms and civic media.

“They should advertise the elections—not just presidential elections, but midterms and local elections—extensively on social media, including ads on Facebook in lots of languages. The federal government should fund those ads.”
—Lowell, Massachusetts

Champion

The Civic Signals project and The Institute for Digital Public Infrastructure at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst are committed to working to implement this recommendation in order to help reinvent American democracy for the 21st century.

The Civic Signals project, a partnership between the National Conference on Citizenship and the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, is working to facilitate dialogue by bringing together experts to reimagine the public goods that can be generated in digital spaces. This and similar projects can support the development of metrics for evaluating the benefits or harms to democracy of social media platforms.

The Institute for Digital Public Infrastructure at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (coming soon)

See the full list of Our Common Purpose Champions.

 

Champion

The Civic Signals project and The Institute for Digital Public Infrastructure at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst are committed to working to implement this recommendation in order to help reinvent American democracy for the 21st century.

The Civic Signals project, a partnership between the National Conference on Citizenship and the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, is working to facilitate dialogue by bringing together experts to reimagine the public goods that can be generated in digital spaces. This and similar projects can support the development of metrics for evaluating the benefits or harms to democracy of social media platforms.

The Institute for Digital Public Infrastructure at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (coming soon)

See the full list of Our Common Purpose Champions.

 

In order to implement Recommendation 5.3 by 2026, the Commission proposes the following milestones to complete by year-end of:

2022

  • Develop text of legislation and regulation 

2023

  • Develop standards for interoperability, portability, and data openness. 

2023

  • Half of Americans know what interoperability, data portability, and data openness are, and why they matter, as well as understanding what a public interest mandate would mean for social media companies