With all this disinformation and misinformation flying around the internet at viral speeds, controlling it is a daunting task. Equally as daunting as trying to discern the good quality information from all the fabricated and sensationalized stories.
Everything good about the internet, when pushed to one extreme or the other, becomes something entirely different. For example, Facebook was designed to allow people to connect with each other. The default in Facebook was to share with friends and friends of friends, etc. and become “friends” with all of them. On the surface it seems like a great way for people to form new bonds and connect to others with similar interests. Although many people had problems with this, myself included, the full extent of why this default was so problematic wasn’t realized by many until their data was scrubbed by Cambridge Analytics. Remember them, the company that paid some people to take a survey and then quietly accessed all their friends’ information?
I’ve been reading articles lately about regulating the large social media and tech companies with a great deal of interest. One of the main issues has always been that the social media platform is the host (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc.), but that doesn’t necessarily make them responsible for controlling the content and determining what people can and can’t post.
Since I’ve lived in North America all my life, for me the big question is where does freedom of speech end and censorship begin. And who’s in charge of creating the rules and then policing them? Is it a good idea for dominant social media and/or tech companies with a global reach to be in charge of this?
If somebody unknowingly spreads (e.g., retweets, posts, forwards, etc.) disinformation (i.e., false information that was intentionally posted), does that make him/her guilty of misinformation or disinformation? How could this be verified or proven? What’s the difference between fake news and beliefs that we hold dear to us, even if they can’t be “scientifically” proven?
To complicate this issue, all of the social media and tech companies are used around the globe. Facebook now has around 2 billion users, more than any one country. How could they ever regulate so much content in so many different jurisdictions in so many different languages around the globe? And should this be up to the companies to do this?