The Rising Need for Regulation of Social Media Giants

Article written by Jarrett Johnson

 

A recent Twitter hack (July 15, 2020) that included high profile accounts such as

Presidential candidate Joe Biden, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates as part of a scam involving

cryptocurrency has drawn the eyes of the New York Department of Financial Services

(DSF). The hacking of the Twitter accounts caused the accounts to send out tweets

offering to return double the amount of any payments in Bitcoin made to a link in the

message.

 

The attack was perpetrated by three hackers posing as Twitter employees. DSF states

that over $110,000 was stolen in Bitcoin from the attack. The ease with which the

hackers were able to access Twitter databases and the reach of the accounts targeted

led to DSF filing a 37-page recommendation for more regulations against these major

“Social Media Giant” companies. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York had also

requested that the DSF pursue an investigation into the matter after the hack.

 

The DSF states that although these companies, such as Twitter and Facebook, are

currently overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Justice Department,

and the Federal Trade Commission. They state that there is a growing need to have a separate

regulatory agency that supervises the entire industry. With social media exponentially

gaining users (Twitter had more than 330 million users per month in 2019) there must

be more protections against these basic attacks. In another incident, Jack

Dorsey’s personal account was hacked and used to send racist tweets out to his almost

5 million followers. With the nature of retweeting on Twitter, this initial number of

followers grow exponentially to millions more that are also able to see the original

tweet.

 

The DSF recommends that these gigantic social media companies be classified as

systemically important institutions, which allows the government to lay down new

regulations and protections against cyber-hacks such as the July 15th attack. Social

media companies saw a major rise in everyday use or even every hour use in society

over the past decade and it will only rise from here as new generations get their first

smartphone. More government regulations have always been on the horizon in new and

impactful industries and social media is no different.

 

 

Sources:

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