In a World of 'Fake News,' What's a Social Media Company to Do?

20 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2020

See all articles by Evelyn Aswad

Evelyn Aswad

University of Oklahoma College of Law

Date Written: December 9, 2019


While the circulation of disinformation and misinformation online can pose a variety of risks to societies around the world, it should also be of concern that overreacting to such false information can undermine human rights, including freedom of expression. The business operations of global social media platforms frequently intersect with this latter concern because of a spike in the adoption of national laws that ban “fake news” as well as their own platform policies to tackle false information. This Essay assesses the corporate responsibility standards afforded by the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and explains several key ways in which the guidance that these instruments provide is relevant to social media companies in tackling false information on their platforms, including with respect to their micro-targeting practices.

Keywords: business and human rights, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, misinformation, disinformation, micro-targeting, social media, cyberspace, international human rights law

Suggested Citation

Aswad, Evelyn, In a World of 'Fake News,' What's a Social Media Company to Do? (December 9, 2019). Utah Law Review, Vol. 2020, No. 4, 2020, Available at SSRN:

Evelyn Aswad (Contact Author)

University of Oklahoma College of Law

307 W Brooks
Norman, OK 73019
United States


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