The United States elected president Joe Biden the administration should already in its first week at the White House consider limiting disinformation online. To this end, a broad Commission comprising representatives of both main parties must be convened.
This is what the professor demands in HS’s telephone interview Philip M. Napoli from Duke University in the United States. He is a fan of Finland, who also has a docentship at the University of Helsinki.
“All restriction options should be put on the table from voluntary regulation within the industry to new laws,” he insists.
“So-called social media needs a standard of ethical guidelines. So far, attempts have been made to draw borders only in the face of coercion and the situation at a time. ”
The professor already grounded the claim in his work Social Media and the Public Interest: Media Regulation in the Disinformation Age (Columbia University Press 2019). A more specific initiative can be found in a recent article he wrote for the professor Bill Adairin with To The Hill.
Social the variegated moderation practices of media companies became an even bigger topic after Epiphany. The last days of the US presidency Donald Trumpin accounts were deleted, for example From Facebook for a limited period and From Twitter permanently.
“It was a justified measure in that situation,” the professor believes.
Trump had lured his supporters to Washington on January 6, when the Senate was ceremoniously confirming the result of the voter vote and Trump’s defeat. “It’s going to be wild,” the president promised protesters on his Twitter account.
This eventually led to the death of five people, when some protesters rushed to the congress building violently.
“Incitement to violence can lead to the removal of these companies’ platforms. It was no surprise, ”Napoli estimates.
Was it a question of freedom of speech?
“Trump can still say anything at press conferences, press releases, speeches, and TV interviews, for example.”
The different thing is ordinary people who, for their part, cannot trust the logic of moderation by these companies.
That is why a professor requires a standard of ethical guidelines.
Twitter was an important channel for Trump, though only 15 percent of Americans receives regular news from the service, says the Pew Research Center. According to Statistics Finland, Twitter is used in Finland only 13 percent 16-89 years old.
“However, Twitter served as an echo chamber for politicians and journalists,” Napoli points out.
Indirect effects have been greater than direct ones. The same goes for Facebook, which is clearly bigger than Twitter.
False allegations of large-scale electoral fraud in the U.S. presidential election fell by a total of 73 percent on various social media platforms in the week following the deletion of Trump’s Twitter account, research firm Zignal Labs said last weekend. Prior to that, election-related disinformation accounted for a significant proportion of all online misinformation. News about it including The Washington Post.
Facebook and, for example, Twitter’s algorithms have been programmed to favor the most exciting and, therefore, most debatable content.
“At the same time, the algorithms favor conspiracy theories and disinformation.”
Therefore, in addition to ethical guidelines, new legislation is needed.
“The Commission I propose must continue the debate on the renewal of Article 230,” Naples insists.
Section 230 the well-known article has so far been interpreted in the United States as meaning that companies that collect and sell their users ’data from their platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, are not responsible to media publishers for user writings and other content production. At the same time, however, they have been allowed to moderate and censor content if they so wish.
For all this, Professor Naples wants much greater clarity.
“As a model, I propose U.S. public service radio and television regulations that are stricter than, for example, press regulations.”
They are also stricter than those of private radio and cable companies, where spending can be fundamentally irresponsible, according to Naples.
“I don’t understand how responsible companies can buy advertising space on the far-right OAN channel, Sean Hannityn from the program on the Fox channel or Ross Limbaugh’n radio programs. They have nothing to do with truth and communication! ”
In his view, the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment to the Constitution on freedom of expression and the press problematically.
“We need to look at the extent to which the first addition can mean accepting deliberate lies and voter cheating.”
About large companies for example, Google has infiltrated the Internet as a hub. At the same time, Facebook has swallowed its rivals so that the U.S. federal agency, the FTC, and a group of 48 state competition authorities raised against it. prosecution in December.
Authorities are seeking to separate Instagram and Whatsapp from Facebook ownership through prosecution.
“I support the prosecution. Large companies have been given too many gatekeeper powers online, ”says Napoli.
Isn’t there a contradiction here? Napoli also wants more moderation for companies, so that they act more as gatekeepers in what can and cannot be said.
“The Commission I propose should consider third parties to carry out the moderation in a mutually agreed manner,” the professor replies.
According to him, there is now also a need to harmonize and disseminate the principles of fact-checking.
“We need 20 times more fact-finding attempts!”
Fact checkers can also be university researchers. The University of Naples, Duke University, developed the Claimreview service, which has since been refined As a Mediareview service.
Is it is likely that the professor’s wishes will come true in at least some form on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to new allegations, U.S. giants are being tested by repeated Senate interrogations, including the new U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris had time to be active.
The EU Commission, for its part, published an extensive bill on new responsibilities for digital giants online in December.
The premise is that digital platforms are no longer treated as neutral actors, but have responsibilities for content. As the law package progresses, it will also have direct effects on Finland, an EU member state.
Read more: The EU wants a new code of conduct for the internet: users will be informed about how to be guided in their hands
“The United States should learn from the EU Commission, which has approached the issue much more systematically,” Napoli says.
“It is particularly important to promote competition and content moderation issues separately in legislation, as planned by the EU. Increasing competition alone will not solve the problems of disinformation, hate speech and incitement to violence, but may even exacerbate them. ”
Naples thinks traditional media has made the same mistake twice.
“First came the internet, and the traditional media decided that you have to go there to share content for free.”
Then came data collection companies that branded themselves as “social media”.
“And again, the traditional media pushed their content to them without thinking about the long-term consequences.”
What should traditional media undoubtedly learn from the popular social media?
“Your job is to collect more data and pass it on informatively, not hypersensitivity.”
However, hypersensitivity has always been part of the history of the sensational press and also of softer entertainment journalism. At that time, however, there was no leverage of algorithms, which attracts users of social media companies to increasingly addictive emotional turmoil.
Self The internet is, of course, vastly broader than social media companies. For example, in Finland, the most common form of Internet use for communication is still e-mail, which is used by 87 percent of Finns, says Statistics Finland.
According to Statistics Finland, online media magazines and television companies’ news pages are also used much more (85 per cent of Finns aged 16–89) than social media services, of which Facebook was the number one in Finland (58 per cent).
Professor Napoli says that traditional media must now develop into a more communal one, not as a free helper for companies like Facebook or Twitter, for example.
“For that, the network offers tremendous opportunities from newsletters to developing the media’s own discussion channels.”