Facebook hasn't — who's in the right? There are powerful arguments on both sides, but the one thing they all have in common is the desire to strike some sort of balance between freedom of political speech and attempting to quell the flow of false information.,
US Rep. Ro Khanna, whose California district includes a portion of Silicon Valley, is one of those stuck in the middle. Allowing political ads to be posted with no fact checking was "wrong," he said speaking at a press conference at Web Summit in Lisbon on Wednesday. But he also doesn't believe in an outright ban.
"I don't think we should ban political ads from social media, and in the First Amendment's idea is that political speech should be able to get to people where they are," he said. "The question is, what is the balance? It shouldn't be the Wild West, but it also shouldn't be censored. Facebook needs to take steps to come up with a policy."
Khanna, a Democrat, also has a clear idea of how such a policy could work. He suggested a system similar to the one that allows the removal of content for copyright purposes. If a complaint was lodged and upheld by an independent regulatory agency that said an ad was blatantly false, the platform would legally be required to remove it.
"I think you could have an agency under certain guidelines that requires removal of ads there are blatantly false or that are suppressing the vote, and have that adjudicated in a way that is still consistent with the First Amendment," he said.
There's been a growing sense among politicians and even tech executives over the past few years that the US needs to more closely regulate its technology industry. Incidents such as theand antitrust disputes have raised questions about how to ensure Silicon Valley is held accountable for protecting people's privacy and how to allow big tech companies to thrive without stifling innovation.
Khanna said on Wednesday that regulation in the US had fallen deeply out of step with technology, and he despaired over some of the basic technology questions tech executives have been asked by politicians while appearing in front of Congress."We don't need computer scientists, we need people who basically have a curiosity about what's happening in the world and are up to the challenge of having thoughtful regulations about technology," he said.
Breaking up big tech companies up isn't a solution to solving the lack of regulation in the US, he added, because this wouldn't solve some of the major problems caused by technology — namely, privacy and jobs. Khanna said that he expects the regulation of big tech will be a big topic of debate during the next election, but also that he believes the discussion of bringing more tech jobs to the rest of the country should be more important.
"A lot of people feel that their kids may not have as good a shot at the American dream or as economic opportunity, because they don't know if they're going to have a shot at the jobs of the future," he said.
Khanna might be Silicon Valley's congressman, but one of his central positions on tech is establishing tech jobs across the US. He praised Apple CEO Tim Cook's efforts to invest in addressing the housing crisis in California, but said there's still an economic incentive to grow the technology industry elsewhere — especially in rural America.
"Our country will fall apart if we don't integrate and provide those opportunities to these places that have been left out," said Khanna. "Put simply, no child should be forced to leave their hometown simply to get a good job. And I think there's an increasing awareness of that in Silicon Valley."