While the platforms have made an effort to combat health misinformation and disinformation, Facebook, Google, and Twitter have historically shied from making judgments about political content or content that doesn’t explicitly tell the viewer to do something that will cause them harm. In the past, all three have maintained they are merely technology platforms and not arbiters of truth—at times to a ridiculous extent.Conspiracy theorists have exploited this position to great effect, creating misinformation that narrowly fits within a platform’s rules. For example, a video that suggests vaccines are ineffective or poisonous is considered “borderline content” by YouTube and is therefore demoted in its rankings—but not taken down. That doesn’t always stop its spread. Content makers can use other platforms to direct viewers to their videos. And in the event that a video is taken down—for example, in the case of the misinformation-riddled viral … [Read more...] about As health misinformation and politics collide, social networks face a choice
Social networking essay
What if a platform suddenly has to attract and engage users based not on stoking and amplifying controversy, but by offering them something of real value? Rather than just existing as a place to complain, vent, and self-righteously judge others, successful platforms in the post-Section 230 world would have to give users more than a quick emotional jolt. Maybe it’s spiritual connection. Maybe it’s enhanced forms of remote learning. Maybe it’s providing medical care. Maybe it’s something we’ve never even thought of. This is the time to find out. … [Read more...] about Trump vs. Twitter: Is there a silver lining in the Section 230 fight?
For the past few years, conservative lawmakers have been threatening to remove the Section 230 protections as a way of pressuring social media platforms to stop removing conservative content, even when it contains misinformation or threatening language. For example, Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri last year proposed a law that would subject social media companies to regulatory audits to prove their sites give equal treatment to conservative and liberal viewpoints. … [Read more...] about Trump’s new executive order is a ‘mugging of the First Amendment,’ says Sen. Wyden
It goes a little deeper than that, according to psychologist and writer Rob Brotherton. In his book, Suspicious Minds, he lays out the argument that it’s the mind’s built-in biases that make conspiracy theories compelling. They tap into some of our deepest desires, fears and assumptions about the world and its people. To illustrate this, he delves into events such as the JFK assassination, the 9/11 attacks, and the Sandy Hook shootings. He also goes further back to examine the supposedly shadowy role of the Illuminati, and the anti-Semitic backlash over the debunked Protocols of the Elders of Zion. … [Read more...] about Coronavirus pandemic: Dealing with an infection of conspiracy theories
The Sur La Table painting was commissioned by Downtown Santa Monica Inc., after its chief executive, Kathleen Rawson, disheartened by the closed businesses in her district, contacted Evan Meyer, chief executive of Beautify and a street artist himself. “Can we do something that can give people some hope?” she asked him. Rawson pulled together a small budget for several “COVID-19 response murals,” as she called them, on the city’s newest canvases. … [Read more...] about Coronavirus pandemic | Murals send a message of hope in grim times