Could a private company be held accountible after an election?

Reading what I though was a boring article on why and how facebook (and their other owned apps like instigram and whatsapp) went down.

You know the basic yada yada, why’d the wait so long to explain — yada yada yada businesses lost money, yada yada yada – why did it take so long to fix yada yada yada.

Then the last paragraph struck me.

What would happen if Facebook, instagram, and Twitter all went dark for 24 hours on election day. You know midnight eastern to midnight Easter. What it if was co-ordinated between them all, the heads all got together and said: “We need to shut down for the voting”.

Would it sway the election? Would congress somehow be able to hold them accountable? Could individual candidates sue the social media sites for some kind of political damage?

Here is what got me thinking . . .

Steve Jones, a professor of communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said the fallout might have been far different if the outage took place ahead of or during a major news event, like an election.

“If today were the day before the next presidential election, how would we hold Facebook accountable for an outage with regard to an electoral outcome?” he asked. “We’re not going to redo an election.”

How exactly could facebook be held accountable for an outage during an election?

Good lord that is dumb.

What if it wasn’t an “oops sorry folks, update didn’t go as planned” but a co-ordinated shutting things off for 24 hours or so?

What if is was? They are a private company they can shut their servers down if they choose to.

Was just wondering because it was a college professor who asked about an unplanned outage. I’m upping the stakes just a little.

You know politic board question and all?

And for the record. I agree if they decided to shut down for 24 hours on election day, I don’t think anyone could do anything to them.

Me personally i barely even use social media anymore so of they went dark for 24 hours i probably wouldn’t even notice.

I can’t remotely think of a statute that could be used to “hold them accountable.”

I didn’t know facebook was down until It on one of the new sites I frequent.

I didnt until i read your post lol.

It would probably be a net positive.

If people need to rely on FB working Election Day we have bigger problems than I thought.

I had no idea it was even down yesterday until reading the paper today.

Someone should inform Steve Jones that is not how any of this works.

The younger generations get all their opinions and news from Facebook.

Snow might have a point.

Sadly, the social-media-generation is, I think, the dumbest generation, and it will only get worse.

A lot of the younger generatation is turning to Instigrahm and abandonging Facebook. That’s why FB bought instagram

Every older generation says the same thing about the following generations.

It’s simply not true.

And only old people are on FB anymore.

My 25 year old has a demanding job and is getting an Executive MBA. He isn’t on any social media at all. He’s outgrown it.

Many young adults his age listen to various podcast - ones from NPR are particularity popular.

The younger people I know are much more knowledgeable than a significant percentage of people on this board.

1 Like

Some people might forget who they were supposed to vote for. It could skew an election for sure.

On a less serious note: I’m sure anyone who paid for political ads that didn’t get run would want a ‘sit down’. (I’m guessing facebook has paid ads. I know so little about facebook it makes me feel smart.)

I think we would all be better off not using social media, or at least cut back. I am officially four years sober from Facebook, now if I can just kick Twitter I will be completely clean.

It would be a fun legal aurgement for law school but really there is no ground to hold them accountable unless you view their platform as part of the public space which is what some people say when they are banned or blocked from using their platforms.

If you want to hold them accountable you must first show they are required to be operating in the first place which they are not.