WELCOME TO THE BLOG
This blog serves my columns as an archive, a place to add footnotes,data sources and drafts of columns for the Sky Hi News(www.skyhidailynews.com) and after November 2019, the Winter Park Times, and postings on the Muftic Forum Blog. Often these are posted on my political Facebook page, The Muftic Forum. I have another facebook page for personal happenings found under feliciamuftic.
I remove comments containing expletives and not in English.
Sunday, January 19, 2020
Should social media and advertising on the internet be regulated?
That is a thorny question. If certain content is forbidden, who is the censor? The government? The owners of the media? The first amendment and freedom of the press are core values and enablers of our democracy. My belief is not the most libertarian. We need to have sources revealed because in social media and internet advertising, the writers and the funders can easily be concealed. If the owners of the media are unwilling to do it, the government may have to require them to do so, particularly if foreign interference in the elections is viewed as a threat to our national security and the integrity of the election process.
From a recent exchange on Facebook with a very thoughtful libertarian who does not believe it is the
government responsibility to regulate the content of social media:.
Me:I do believe in a free marketplace of ideas, but like anything I buy in a marketplace, I would like to see its manufacture of origin and its real ingredients, not just the label or the hype. As you see, I am not a libertarian, but I do believe in the right to express oneself short of shouting fire in a theater and fomenting a violent revolution, and I do believe in the right of the consumers of that information to be aware of national origin and contents.
Libertarian: I agree. But you’re holding the theater owner responsible and not the person screaming fire. There are already constitutional laws limiting free speech. Those should be applied to the people who break those laws. And for the record, news agencies do not reveal sources. Many go to court to avoid having to reveal sources. This isn’t about Facebook. This is about the people who post on Facebook.
Me: That is indeed a thorny problem. How do you sort the foreign influencers from John Doe just expressing opinions? Start with fake news stories planted and originating from foreign servers and with attention to paid advertising. That is squarely in the purview of the owner of the social media. It should be in their interest to be a trusted source, but advertising dollars are more in their interest.
It is a matter of national interest: What has changed in current times, is that foreign actors have unprecedented ability to change the minds of Americans and Americans have no way of knowing it. In the cold war and prior hot wars, enemies had difficulty using their propaganda methods to change our domestic minds. Radio and broadcast TV and printed papers were the media. Now, with the internet, they have unmitigated access, and they can do it in disguise or with no attribution. They know what rings our chimes. They play on fears and hatred, targeting groups who already disposed that way. Such gut appeals are strong motivators to help the candidate they think will act in ways that benefit their foreign policy. The unthinking, unquestioning bobbleheads of the vulnerable low information voter is their fondest target. This is what happened in 2016 and is happening again in 2020. The Mueller Report volume one contains 150 pages of how they did it. Thanks to the fast growth of the internet and social media, we have not had the experience and time to prepare for that kind of an onslaught. We are babes in the woods in the modern era of the internet and the wild frontier of social media.
What has also changed is our level of cybersecurity sophistication. The point you raise is that "it isn't about Facebook, it is about the people who post on Facebook is a good point." I would differentiate it. : That is indeed a thorny problem. How do you sort the foreign influencers from John Doe just expressing opinions? Start with fake news stories planted and originating from foreign servers and with attention to paid advertising. That is squarely in the purview of the owner of the social media. It should be in their interest to be a trusted source, but advertising dollars are more in their interest. lt appears. Cybersecurity methods are far more capable than John Doe's and they should be tapped to determine sources of news stories and advertising. Both the private sector and government have the tools. Use them. It is in the interest of Facebook to do it if they object to the government stepping in and doing it for them. I would have preferred Zuckerberg to take responsibility. He didn't. We now are left with the government to do it if they believe it is in national security interests. If determining what is fake news is the problem, then all news that does not identify its origin would keep the government and the private sector for having to make that judgment call.