Locals hopeful The Social Dilemma movie will result in actual social change | Western Colorado
The makers of the new Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma” knew that something was wrong with Americans’ opinions after making a documentary about climate change a few years ago.
When they showed their film “Chasing Ice” in 2012, they found that viewers had more than just different opinions about climate change, they also had different facts that led to it.
That experience spurred the Colorado filmmakers to grapple with the diverse views and quickly led them to social media companies and the algorithms they use to match users with promotional material.
“We heard from (Big Tech employees) that the way technology is being developed is having a negative impact on society,” said Jeff Orlowski, director of the documentary, during a panel discussion with residents of the film about the film Mesa County at Colorado Mesa University earlier this month.
“There was a concept called the filter bubble that we learned back then that people would get different types of information depending on what the algorithms were trying to feed you individually,” he said. “We all receive personalized (news) feeds. News should be like a shared, central truth. Everyone with their own personal news feed is on their own personal island. Our ideas and thoughts change based on what the algorithms show us every day. “
While the film outlines the problem, the solution is not easy to find.
Congressional lawmakers and several state lawmakers across the country are struggling to take action and are introducing bills to try to address the root causes of the problem.
Polls show that an equal percentage of Republican and Democratic voters believe that something needs to be done to regulate companies like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Google, but few agree on exactly what.
A Gallup poll published recently last month found that roughly half of Americans now think the industry needs regulation, but not for the same reasons.
A major dismay for Republicans is the belief that social media companies are biased against conservatives and are trying to blame or block their messages altogether, the survey found.
Corporations are too big for Democrats and the power they wield needs to be limited.
Several members of Congress have tried to look into the matter in recent years and none have gone anywhere.
There are currently several measures in Congress aimed at big tech, including a law to strengthen the country’s antitrust laws that could force them to break into smaller, individual companies.
US Representative Ken Buck, a Republican from Colorado who represents the state’s 4th Congressional District, has introduced several measures that also target big tech. Earlier this month, he and U.S. Representative David Cicilline, DR.I., tabled a bill that would allow small news outlets to band together to negotiate better news and advertising arrangements with major online platforms.
Buck and others are also looking into antitrust matters with social media companies and strengthening the country’s merger laws to keep them from getting bigger.
In December, the Federal Trade Commission and 46 states filed a lawsuit against Facebook for buying up rivals Instagram and WhatsApp over the past decade.
“A bipartisan group of attorneys general has filed this lawsuit against Facebook because their campaign to promise to buy or bury threats to competition has undermined competition, harmed consumers, and thwarted innovation,” Colorado attorney general Phil Weiser said as the state joined the lawsuit. “Facebook’s dominance in the social networking market can only be challenged once the anti-competitive measures are addressed and remedied.”
In Colorado Legislation, Senator Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, introduced bill to regulate digital communications that operate in the state even if they are located elsewhere in the country.
It would have acted against unfair or discriminatory practices, the disclosure or disclosure of personal information, or the use of facial recognition or other tracking software.
Due to the complexity of the bill and the widespread opposition to it, Donovan had changed it to instead set up a dedicated body to investigate the matter and propose a different solution until the next year’s legislature.
The Colorado Senate tentatively approved this revised measure, SB132, on Friday. It requires a final Senate vote, which is expected to take place this week before it can go into the house.
All of these measures, however, won’t get much credit under the one federal law for allowing social media companies to work the way they have done. This is known as Section 230 of the Federal Communications Decency Act, the same section of law President Donald Trump wanted Congress to remove before he left office earlier this year.
Among them, social media companies are seen as distributors of news and information rather than publishers of news and information. As a result, they are immune to defamation lawsuits when users post inaccurate or false claims.
Congress members continue to toy with the idea of changing or removing this section, but some believe that doing so would solve the problem as it would force social media companies to curb misinformation and false news, or bring costly lawsuits.
“From data breaches to child harm to language suppression, the ramifications are very real,” said US Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., When he tabled a Section 230 immunity waiver bill last summer. “These kinds of manipulative ads were not what Congress had in mind when they passed Section 230, and now it is time to put an end to that abuse.”