John Samples more or less supports Facebook’s refusal to fact-check claims by politicians. Partisans will always have strong views, and finding the line between contested statements and lies will never be easy. Existing campaign finance laws and the precedent that these set for any future social media regulation may make this an exceptionally important area for the private sector to get right: A political solution won’t likely be better.
Social media is engineered to deliver our attention to paying advertisers. The results for democratic governance have already been worrisome, and it is high time to develop “a more resilient national intellectual immune system,” writes Alex Feerst. He adds that there is no such thing as “natural, unmediated” online speech; all forms of digital organization involve privileging one or another form of data in some way. A pure free speech position may therefore not be particularly germane to the policy debates at hand.
Social media companies know a lot less than you may think, and that’s part of the problem. Trying to set them up as fact-checkers would commit them to a project that they are badly equipped to manage. Will Rinehart argues that just as the post office isn’t required to screen the mail for truth, and just as telecommunications companies are not held responsible for the content of robocalls, so too the new media should not be expected to do our thinking for us.
Conversation through the end of the month.
Related at Cato
Essay:”The Problem with ‘Fake News’” by Ryan Khurana, July 20, 2018
Policy Analysis: “Why the Government Should Not Regulate Content Moderation of Social Media,” by John Samples, April 9, 2019