24 different countries created new laws or rules determining how online platforms can treat content, a study by Freedom House found.
Internet freedom has declined for the past 11 years globally, according to the report.
The trend can be attributed to problems like extremism, fraud, and criminal activity in the internet.
Authorities in at least 24 different countries, including the US, created new laws or rules determining how online platforms can treat content, a study finds.
Freedom House, a Washington DC-based democracy advocacy group, reported that global internet freedom has been on the decline for 11 consecutive years.
Freedom House, which publishes its Freedom on the Net report annually, found that at least 48 countries pursued new rules for tech companies on content, data, and competition in 2020, and 24 countries created new rulings specifically on how content is treated on the internet. Some of the rulings include requirements to take down illegal content, stronger transparency, and extremes like political and journalistic censorship, according to the study.
Freedom House says the trend can be attributed to problems within society like extremism, exploitative business practices, and criminal activity.
The report said there were "few positive exceptions" to the worldwide push to regulate the big tech companies, such as dismantling harmful online harassment and manipulative market practices.
"While a few measures introduced this year have the potential to hold tech giants more accountable for their performance, most simply impose state and even political responsibilities on private firms without securing greater rights for users," the report said.
This past year, officials in India pressured Twitter to remove protest-related commentary and to stop flagging manipulated content shared by the ruling party. In Nigeria, authorities blocked access to Twitter across the country after the social media platform removed incendiary posts by the country's president.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill to stop social media companies like Facebook and Twitter from censoring users based on their politics and allows private citizens and the Texas attorney general to sue tech companies who they believe have unfairly kicked someone off a platform, Insider reported.
Two major trade groups have sued Abbott and Texas over the bill, saying in the lawsuit it will "unconstitutionally require platforms like YouTube and Facebook to disseminate, for example, pro-Nazi speech, terrorist propaganda, foreign government disinformation, and medical misinformation."
Currently, Twitter does not screen content or remove potentially offensive content, according to the company's policy. But targeted abuse or harassment can violate Twitter rules.
Facebook, in a white paper released by the company last year, said it wants regulators to create legal standards for content moderation. Earlier this month, a meeting of Facebook leaders focused on "whether Facebook has gotten too big," Insider reported. Facebook, the world's largest social network, with nearly 3 billion users, disagreed with the report.
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