A reincarnated Howard Beale of “Network” fame would say, “People are mad as hell about the amount of misinformation circulating on social media about COVID-19 vaccines and they are not going to take it anymore.”
They demand that social media companies be held accountable for their actions.
A Morning Consult poll released July 29 bears that out. It found that 63 percent of US adults support a federal bill to hold social media companies responsible for pushing fake news about the vaccines and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Democratic Senators Amy Klobachar (D-MN) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced such a measure on July 22 called the “Health Misinformation Act.”
It would strip the Section 230 liability shield of the Communications Decency Act, from digital platforms that promote misinformation tied to an existing public health emergency, as declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
“The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how lethal misinformation can be and it is our responsibility to take action,” said Klobachar in introducing the bill.
Though the Klobachar/Luján bill, which lacks a single Republican sponsor, has zero chance of becoming law, it serves as a warning shot to social media companies. They better get their acts together on misinformation.
The Morning Consult poll found that only 25 percent believe social media do a good/excellent job on curbing anti-vaccine content. More than six-in-ten (62 percent) Americans give the companies a fair/poor rating.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been good news for the Robinhood stock trading platform that has just gone public. The stock opened at $38 on July 29 and closed down 8.4 percent at $34.82. Shareholders may be in for a heck of a ride.
Robinhood’s Securities and Exchange filing, which includes 75 pages of “risk factors,” says the company has enjoyed “substantial growth” in its customer base since the onset of the pandemic.
Corporate shutdowns, travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders and quarantines were music to Robinhood's ears.
“During this period, market volatility, stay-at-home orders and increased interest in investing and personal finance helped foster an environment that encouraged an unprecedented number of first-time retail investors to become Robinhood customers and begin trading on the Robinhood platform,” it says in the S-1 document.
Robinhood is “uncertain whether these trends and behavioral shifts will continue as reopening measures continue, and we may not be able to maintain the customer base we gained, or the rate of growth in our customer base that we experienced, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The company will also miss those federal stimulus checks sent to its customers.
Robinhood also frets about the threat posed by negative publicity, since it views its brand and reputation as two of its most important assets.
“Our reputation, brand and ability to build trust with existing and new customers may be adversely affected by complaints and negative publicity about us, our platform and customers that utilize our platform or our competitors’ platforms, even if factually incorrect or based on isolated incidents,” according to the S-1.
Robinhood should invest in a couple of savvy financial and crisis firms.