Kathy Kiley, a former political USA Today reporter, is the Lee Hills Chair in Free Press Studies at the Missouri School of Journalism. The following are excerpts from her recent piece, “Facebook Refusal to Curb Fake Nancy Pelosi Drunk Video Highlights Need for Responsibility.”
Saying that web platforms now threaten democracy, she writes:
If someone wanted to come up with a plan to get Americans to repeal the First Amendment, it might go something like this: Create a global platform for transmitting information. Give it owners more interested in expanding their empires than fostering a civil community. And give them special protections to publish slanders with impunity.
Welcome to the brave new “news” world that the internet has built. Or, more accurately, that we have allowed leaders of internet platforms to build because we have not insisted that they assume the responsibility that goes along with their newfound power.
Facebook’s refusal to pull a maliciously doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from its platform is the latest example of how the technology many thought would turbocharge democracy has instead threatened it.
Hey, why eliminate an inaccuracy that might get some people to click it?…
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. When the internet first burst onto the scene as a widely accessible communications tool in the early 1900s, there were many who hailed it as a way to end-around the mostly older, mostly white, mostly male gatekeepers of the nation’s mainstream media.
Say what you will about us dinosaurs who were published by the printing press. We took people’s rights to privacy and against getting slandered seriously. And let’s be honest: It wasn’t because we were great idealists devoted to the Truth. It was partly because we could get sued.
But not Facebook…
Facebook spent nearly $13 million lobbying Congress last year, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. More than two-thirds of Americans are on the social platform, according to the Pew Research Center, and more Americans now get their news from social media than from newspapers.
Everyone has a right to their opinion. But not everyone’s opinion—or racist rants, or unscientific theories or malevolently doctored videos—deserve to be given worldwide publication…
To read Kiely’s full opinion piece, click here, with my many thanks. Your comments are most welcome.