Does a free press mean more regulation for Facebook?

Updated 7:31 AM ET, Fri November 17, 2017

Emily Bell is founding director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism and a leading thinker, commentator and strategist on digital journalism. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. This is the next installment in the CNN Opinion series on the challenges facing the media, under attack from critics, governments and changing technology.

(CNN)At the beginning of November, the general counsels of Facebook, Google and Twitter appeared on Capitol Hill to answer questions about a destabilizing campaign of Russian meddling. Members of Congress grilled them on exactly how each of the platforms might have allowed malicious publishing from foreign actors aimed at influencing the US election.

The widespread existence of fake news spread by bots and hyperpartisan trolls across social media only came to light as a result of the shock election of Donald Trump in the 2016 election. The congressional hearings this month revealed that the problem extended to potentially millions of American voters being exposed to political messaging and ads orchestrated by Russia.
While lawmakers consider what to do to curb the possibility of such interference happening again, social media companies have started to change their own content policies. This raises an urgent question as to whether our media environment needs more regulation and if so, who should do it, the government or the vast privately owned technology companies?