Chau Introduces Legislation to Combat Misinformation Online

AB 35 seeks to ensure that social media platforms have a policy to address the harmful spread of misinformation.

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblymember Ed Chau (D–Monterey Park) introduced legislation that would empower Californians to better assess what social media platforms are doing to address the rampant spread of misinformation.

Specifically, Assembly Bill (AB) 35 would require social media platforms to disclose whether or not they have a policy or mechanism in place to reduce the spread of misinformation that contributes to the risk of imminent violence or physical harm, to reduce the spread of harmful, verifiably inauthentic content, and to address practices intended to deceptively and substantially manipulate or disrupt the behavior of users.

“The proliferation of misinformation can have a severe impact on the psychological and emotional well-being of Californians, which makes access to accurate information all the more important,” said Assemblymember Chau. “As we grapple with containing the COVID-19 pandemic, social media platforms are an essential tool in spreading important information on how people can stay safe and healthy. However, they have also become an avenue for those interested in spreading misinformation, including acts of fraud. Since social media platforms are an integral part of sharing and understanding information, it is vital to ensure that information is accurate and factual.”
In 2019, the Pew Research Center reported that 55% of U.S. adults got their news from social media, which went up from 47% in 2018. A different report by the Pew Research Center found that despite controversies surrounding fake news, the number of U.S. adults who continue to rely on getting news from social media sites stayed nearly the same at 72% in 2018 compared to 73% in 2019. In another survey by Statista, 10% of U.S. adults knowingly shared made up news online in 2019 and approximately 50% shared a news story, only to find out later the news story was false.

The topic of misinformation, also known as fake news, and its spread on social media has been debated and reported on by almost every major news organization. Yet, the data shows that U.S. adults continue to rely on news that spreads through social media platforms, which play a big role in increasing the reach of false stories. All of this leads to confusion and a growing mistrust of news organizations.

Assemblymember Ed Chau represents the 49th Assembly District, comprised of the communities of Alhambra, Arcadia, El Monte, Monterey Park, Rosemead, San Gabriel, San Marino, Temple City and portions of Montebello, and South El Monte.