Platform operators should treat personal media and mass media differently
Social media in The current form is broken.
In 20 years, we will take a look again at the social media of the 2020s, as we see children walking on the back of a station wagon without a seatbelt while smoking on an airplane or road trip. Social media platforms have evolved into borderless, society-level misinformation machines. Any claim that they do not have editorial influence on the flow of information is nonsense. Just as a news editor chooses the headlines of the day, social media platforms channel content with engagement-maximizing algorithms and viral dynamics. They are by no means passive observers of our political discourse.
At the same time, I sympathize with the position that these companies are caught between the shareholders and the public interest. I have started technology companies and helped build large scale Internet platforms. Therefore I understand that the duty of the CEO of social media is to maximize the value of the business to its shareholders. I also know that social media companies can do better. They are not helpless to improve themselves. Opposite Mark Zuckerberg Recently drawn to deal with President Trump’s reckless positions, the executives and boards of these companies have complete dominance over their products and policies, and they have an obligation to their shareholders and society to make material changes for them.
The way to fix social media starts with realizing that it is two different things: personal media and mass media.
Personal media is mostly social media. Selfie from a hike or a shot of that Oreo sundae, the stuff you share with friends and family. Mass media is content that reaches a large audience – such as a tweet that reaches a Super Bowl-sized audience in real time. To be clear, it is not about focusing on people with a lot of followers. High reach content can also be posts that go viral and are seen by a large audience.
Twitter’s decision to cancel some of Trump’s tweets is a baby step in this direction. By applying more and more scrutiny to the mega-visibility user, the company is treating those posts differently than low-reach tweets. But this extra attention should not be attached to a particular person, rather it should be implemented. All tweets Which reaches a large audience.
Reach is an objective measure of the impact of social media posts. It makes sense. Tweets going to more people carry more weight and therefore they should focus any effort on disinfection. The audience size of a message is just as important, if not more, than its content. Therefore, access is a useful first cut filter extracted from the hornet’s nest to explain the sender’s underlying content or beliefs.
From the point of view of technology, it is very remarkable. When a social media post exceeds an access threshold, the platform should automatically be subject to additional procedures to reduce disinfection and promote community standards. One idea, an extension of what Twitter recently did, would be to prominently link links to relevant articles from a pool of reliable sources – to add context, not censors. The pool of reliable content should be substantial and diverse in its approach, but it is possible, and users can also be involved in crowdsourcing those decisions. For content with the highest reach, additional human duration and even journalistic-style fact checking can occur. If these platforms can serve relevant advertisements in milliseconds, they can serve relevant content from reliable sources.
From a regulatory standpoint, access is also the right framework for reform in Section 230 of the Communications Communications Act. It is pre-social media legislation that gives Internet platforms broad immunity from liability for those traffic. Conceptually, Section 230 makes sense for low-access content. Facebook You should not be held liable for every comment made by your uncle Bob. Twitter and Facebook tend to view the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times more than the Internet service provider when the post reaches a large number of people. In these cases, it is appropriate that they be equally subject to legal liability as mass media outlets for widely damaging false distribution.
Better start social media with breaking the problem based on the accessibility of the content. Social media are two very different things thrown together in an internet blender: personal media and mass media. Let’s start treating it as such.