SUMMARY: Facebook and Twitter face a decade-long reckoning over their role in the US’s political upheaval as well as the spread of false and fake information. Social media platforms have to do a better job balancing innovation with its effects on society.
Social media has too much power and needs to be reined in. The violence that hit Washington, D.C., is just one small example of how social media can promote violence, but it goes beyond that. The spread of false and misleading information on Facebook and Twitter is prevalent. These sites need to do a lot better job of monitoring posts.
If you call somebody “stupid” or “dumb” on Facebook, there is a good chance that some twenty-something person working for Facebook is going to put you in Facebook jail. Post that you have a cure for Covid and the post will probably gather millions of views before Facebook takes any action if any.
There is a balance between first amendment rights and spreading false or hateful information. Today too many people believe everything they read on social media, and too many advertisers refuse to hold Facebook accountable for their lying and bravado.
If I advertise a supplement on Facebook that says “reduces your chance of getting cancer by more than 75%, how many people are going to buy the product even though there is no evidence in what I advertise? That is just one of the dangers of social media.
Yet despite all the opportunities to advertise bad products Facebook will ban you for bullying if you call someone stupid and believe me there are a LOT of stupid people on Facebook.
When I was a kid, I often got bullied until I decided to fight back. That’s part of growing up, but today, overprotective parents and social media feel that they need to shield people from bullying because we are so damn sensitive.
Using social media to promote violence is something else completely. Given the current state of our country it doesn’t take much to incite people to violence.
With the ban of Trump on Twitter and Facebook research by Zignal Labs, which the Washington Post reported on Saturday, online misinformation about election fraud plunged 73 percent in the weeklong period following Twitter’s decision to ban Trump on January 8. This is a good example of how just one person can manipulate people via social media.
An effort to pressure Facebook to crack down on hate speech and misinformation has prompted dozens of advertisers to say they’ll stop spending on the platform but the problem is that not enough brands are making this decision.
According to The NY Times “many of the participants boycotting Facebook are small businesses, which make up the bulk of Facebook’s eight million advertisers. But recently, several large companies that spend millions of dollars a year on the platform have also distanced themselves. Some are also halting their advertising from Twitter and other social media sites, along with Facebook’s platforms”.
That’s not enough, though. Responsible consumers should express their dissatisfaction by not buying any product advertised on Facebook or Twitter. I go out of my way to avoid advertised products on Facebook because I have had enough of Zuckerberg and Sandberg.
Now the government has bipartisan support to finally rein in social media. New casebook law is sure to be made in the near future forcing social media to become more responsible for hate speech that incites people to commit crimes. Long overdue !