Regulations Needed for Social Media, Misinformation 'Superspreaders,' Report Says

Online misinformation is jeopardizing efforts to solve humanity's greatest challenges, and "superspreaders" who amplify harmful false information are bringing about the fastest fall, a report released on Monday said.

The report is from the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., and says that issues such as climate change, COVID-19 and political polarization will be harder to solve with misinformation and "superspreaders" directing the social narrative online.

The 80-page analysis called for new regulations on social media platforms and more consistent rules for the "superspreaders" in order to limit their posts online.

The report is from the institute's Commission on Information Disorder, which is a 16-person panel that includes experts on the internet and misinformation, as well as Prince Harry.

The panel blames the proliferation of misinformation on factors including the rapid growth of social media, a loss of trust in institutions, and a decline in traditional local journalism.

The report further calls for a national strategy to confront misinformation, and urges lawmakers to take matters into their own hands to create laws that would make social media platforms more transparent and accountable to officials and consumers.

The report also recommends stripping some social media platforms of their legal immunity when it comes to advertisement content, or for lawsuits regarding the platform's designs and features.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Prince Harry
Misinformation online is jeopardizing efforts to solve humanity’s greatest challenges, and “superspreaders” who amplify harmful false information are bringing about the fastest fall, according to a report released on Monday. The report is from the Aspen Institute's Commission on Information Disorder, a 16-person panel that includes Prince Harry. Above, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, speaks during the Global Citizen festival on September 25, 2021, in New York. Stefan Jeremiah/Associated Press

"Hundreds of millions of people pay the price, every single day, for a world disordered by lies," reads the report's introduction, written by the commission's three co-chairs: journalist Katie Couric, former White House cybersecurity official Christopher Krebs and Rashad Robinson, president of the organization Color of Change.

During a briefing on the report's findings Monday, Couric, Krebs and Robinson stressed that every American has a role to play in fighting misinformation, by reviewing where they get their information, by ensuring that they don't spread harmful falsehoods, and by fighting the polarization that fuels misinformation.

"The path to making real change is going to require all of us," Robinson said.

The Aspen Institute has shared its findings with several social media platforms including Facebook. A message seeking a response from that company was not immediately returned on Monday.

The report was funded by Craig Newmark Philanthropies, a charity founded by the creator of Craigslist.