Had been social media giants proper to silence Trump?
Facebook and Google’s decision to cut Donald Trump’s direct access to his millions of supporters has sparked an interesting, contradicting mix of responses from across the political spectrum. While liberals in the US were delighted that social media companies were late in policing – or “moderate” in technical jargon – international figures, no less liberal like Angela Merkel, warned that what they see is dangerous Erosion of freedom of speech.
It’s about a lot more than Trump. An important timely debate about how to limit the unimpeded power of huge social media companies to dominate and shape public discourse for good and bad begins. Dutch politician Marietje Schaake warns: “Both the storming of the Capitol and the panic reactions from social media companies have exposed the depth of uncontrolled power that social media companies have over public debate and public safety. The weighing and weighing of rights and interests belongs to democratically legitimate decision-makers. There needs to be accountability beyond self-regulation. “
In Ireland, news organizations are hoping the issue will be among the issues to be taken up by the Future of the Media Commission, which is currently meeting and reporting this summer.
And Facebook itself has recognized that it shouldn’t make so many language and online safety decisions on its own, and that there is a need to “go beyond self-regulation” by bringing the Trump decision to a new independent oversight body for review.
Nudity and hatred
The board, which is run by an independent trust and originally funded by Facebook with US $ 130 million, consists of eminent international personalities in the fields of law, politics, journalism, civil and digital rights from 18 countries on six continents (including the Danish Ex-Prime Minister Hella Thorning) -Schmidt).
It has the mandate to provide an appeals court for decisions of the social media giant and to steer its policy of free speech. The company, hoping other platforms to join its “jurisdiction,” has pledged to uphold decisions on topics as diverse as nudity and hate speech – the board spent much of its early days debating when nipples would be acceptable should.
Alan Rushbridger, former Guardian editor, is a member of the commission and the 20-person board of directors.
Human rights groups complain that Facebook’s justification for removing websites is applied with great inconsistency
Human rights groups complain that Facebook’s justification for removing websites that incite violence is being used with great inconsistency. Is the reluctance to face hateful, anti-Muslim places in India, its largest market, a function of its unwillingness to offend India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi? Virulent sectarian speeches in online posts in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia and Ethiopia have long been tolerated by the company. However, in Uganda and Iran, the company has removed several locations that it says violate its community standards.
“Our guidelines apply to everyone,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, in a recent interview with Reuters, which was not entirely convincing. “The policy is that you cannot incite violence, you cannot be part of the incitement to violence.” Defining incitement is not an easy one, however – many legal experts in the US wonder, for example, whether Trump’s election lies go so far as to constitute incitement. Senate, please notice.
If not, should telling lies be enough to get a website takedown? This would present both a monumental and a deeply subjective challenge to platforms, and a serious erosion of the freedom of speech that traditionally includes the right to tell lies. (People misleading about dangerous medications or diets can be targeted.)
Nick Clegg has admitted that Facebook is resisting pressure from Russia to post Alexei Navalny
Rights groups fear that autocratic leaders such as Russian Vladimir Putin and Philippines Rodrigo Duterte will, apart from contradictions, use Facebook’s willingness to remove Trump websites to argue that they should also remove “subversive” dissident sites. Nick Clegg, the UK’s former Deputy Prime Minister and now a senior Facebook officer, has admitted that the company is resisting pressure from Russia to publish posts by opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
And in light of European proposals that the state must participate in regulating content online because of the failure of self-regulation, a threatening bill in Poland ruled by the right-wing Law and Justice Party would punish social media companies for doing so Removing content is not expressly illegal. It is feared that this could allow for greater targeting of LGBTQ people.
The challenge for society is to define the unacceptable through the relatively uncontroversial enforcement of laws against illegal online language (from incitement to hatred and violence, to terrorist content to the publication of child pornography). Where do we draw the line? Is Facebook’s removal of material tantamount to censorship or is it the exercise of its democratic right to choose who it hosts on its platform?
Or does its gigantic size and monopoly position in the market require us to change the rules in the name of democracy and find a regulatory place between self-regulation and state control?