Should FaceBook be held responsible for promoting hate and fake news.

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  1. peterstreep profile image79
    peterstreepposted 3 years ago

    Facebook is a publisher. Like a newspaper or magazine.
    Newspapers and magazines do and can not publish everything they want as they have to abide by the law. And so can be held accountable if they are promoting hatred towards groups of people, defamation of a person or spreading outright lies like denying the Holocaust.
    Facebook does. As never before the extreme right has a platform to promote hate against religious groups and terrorists are life streaming their mass-murder "events".
    Facebook is a multimillion company and so surely has the funds to organize the "freedom of speech" better. But it looks as if the sharing of a mass-murder event is more in the interest of the company then the moral and ethical responsibility of stopping the promotion of hate and violence.
    What are your thoughts about Facebook?

    1. Eastward profile image86
      Eastwardposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      I think Twitter took the right path of banning political ads altogether and would like to see Facebook follow suit.

      1. peterstreep profile image79
        peterstreepposted 3 years agoin reply to this

        Twitter made a good move. As the platform should be seen as a magazine. In many countries political parties are not allowed to make ads 1 week before election day. To give people a time to think.
        Banning political ads is a good start.

      2. mike102771 profile image73
        mike102771posted 3 years agoin reply to this

        It's important to note they banned paid political ads, not political speech, although here in the US in a strange court ruling saying money is speech.

    2. GA Anderson profile image91
      GA Andersonposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      I have to take a contrarian position Peterstreep. I view Facebook as a publishing platform—not as a publisher. As such, I don't want them censoring anything. I see it like that warning of "Buyer Beware!," except in this case it is "Reader Beware!."

      I can imagine so many unacceptable pitfalls:

      How would you want them to determine what to censor? Who's standards would you want them to use?

      Also, what part of "truth" matters? A holocaust denying post may contain many real truths, but twisted and portrayed to convey a falsehood. So how would that get censored—just the false portrayal gets snipped, or the entire 'post'  gets deleted?

      What about posted opinions? Would opinions that differ, or draw different conclusions from the norm be banned?

      If your focus is on political ads, think of all the seemingly innocent 'legitimate' political promises made in past ads that were found to be not truthful—should they have been banned?

      Using a current issue, where would you want the line drawn; Warren's political ads proclaimed her Medicare-for-all plan would be completely paid for by her proposed tax increases, yet the fact-checkers have determined that is not possible, so it cannot be true. Would you have her ads censored?

      However, I did see one thought in the thread I could live with—ban all political ads at a set time prior to the election date; a week or so, as mentioned, to give readers time to 'think'*
      *Ha! if one believes some of the more blatant ads, then I don't think a month of thinking will help ;-)

      I don't think this is just a 'slippery slope' issue, I think it is a slippery slope with the gravitational pull of a blackhole.

      What you seem to be asking is to have someone's freedom of expression censored because you don't like what they say.


      1. wilderness profile image95
        wildernessposted 3 years agoin reply to this

        re: banning political ads.  I'm not confident at all that any algorithm could spot cleverly designed ads as political, and that puts it back onto manually checking every paid ad and every post - something that cannot reasonably be done.  We already have far too many laws that cannot be enforced from a practical standpoint - that would be just one more.

        But certainly agree with the black hole comment - once started censorship has a very nasty habit of growing beyond anything originally conceived of or intended. Are pro life ads "hate speech" because it targets womens choice or are pro choice ads "hate speech" because they promote murder of infants?

      2. peterstreep profile image79
        peterstreepposted 3 years agoin reply to this

        --What you seem to be asking is to have someone's freedom of expression censored because you don't like what they say.--

        But there is a line between freedom of expression and promoting hatred against the Islam or Jews for example.

        Lies are not harmless. conspiracy theories are not harmless. Thanks to the wide spread believe that the climate crisis is a hoax, the POTUS has been given a consensus from the public to pull out of the Paris agreement.

        The holocaust hoax opinion is simply not to be tolerated. These are not opinions but these lies lay the foundation of tolerating mass murder. You can not tolerate flat out lies because that's accepting that history is rewritten.
        Just like the flat earth theory or the believe in the moon landing hoax. It eats away the respect for science, history and truth.
        It is not "just an opinion". it attacks directly democracies. Like the lie of the Pizza scandal of Hillary Clinton. The lie is so fast and timed well, as an innocent person you can't do anything about it. Before you have come with the truth the lie has done it's work. sewing doubt.

        Or the sex revenge videos going viral and ruining lives.

        As Facebook is the publisher, or I agree publishing platform - it has responsibilities. The AI today is amazing. And it's surely possible to make algorithms that will differentiate an article about the dangers of a holocaust hoax and a real article about denying the holocaust.
        Technical the things are possible. But simply because conspiracy theories get loads of hits and thus Facebook is making money out of holocaust deniers, it won't do a thing.

        If a neo-nazi comes into a restaurant and is making a hateful speech against Jews and threaten to kill them. The restaurant owner can do two things. Or he agrees with his view and gives him a pad on the shoulder and a meal, or he tells him to get the hell out of his restaurant (without a meal) Facebook can do so too but refuses and is therefore in my view complacent in a mass murder that is life streamed, like the one in New Zeeland.

        Racism, sewing hatred, anti-Semitism, etc. are not what is tolerated in a normal society. So why on Facebook. Why giving paedophiles, bigots and sex offenders a platform of millions to boost about their acts.

        There is a slippery slope, I give you that. But some things are crystal clear and do not fall under "freedom of expression".

        Facebook does censor beheadings and rape videos for example. So it's already censoring. The question of what to censor and what not is a legit one.

        1. GA Anderson profile image91
          GA Andersonposted 3 years agoin reply to this

          We obviously have different perspectives Peterstreep.

          You speak of opinions not to be tolerated and hate speech and conspiracy theories that are crystal clear, but I don't agree.

          You speak of the current technological power of AI, but then use the simplistic examples of beheadings and rape. There are several reasons I am against your proposed Facebook censorship responsibilities, but one of primary importance would be who you would trust to do the censoring, (not forgetting I am against such censoring). Those algorithms have to be programmed by, and parameters defined by, someone.

          Simply put, who would you trust to define hate speech and conspiracy theories for everyone?  It is like the 'porn' question. Even our Supreme Court has problems with that. Can you define porn in a programmable manner that would work for everyone and every instance? I think not, yet you want some working group of corporate programmers to do what you and our Supreme Court can't do for a comparable area like hate speech.

          As you can see, I do not agree that what to censor and what not to censor—in this instance—is a legit one.


          1. peterstreep profile image79
            peterstreepposted 3 years agoin reply to this

            With the beheadings, I meant that Facebook is already censoring.
            And luckily there are a lot of things not shown. Thanks to the underpaid Facebook workers who have to see those things all the time and keep them out of our Facebook feed.
            So censoring is not by definition a bad thing.

            The AI algorithms are programmed by programmers, but they are not the ones who decide. The law decides in the end.

            The law never works for everybody and there are always exceptions.
            And I definitely understand your constraint and the question: where do we start and where do we end with censorship.

            Having a facebook page about the flat earth theory seems laughable but not all conspiracy theories are so "innocent".
            The Pizzagate hoax about Hillary Clinton being part of a pedophile network is not so innocent. The climate crisis hoax conspiracy is not so innocent.

            I understand your concern GA but to me the freedom of speech has it's limits. And promoting violence, racism or antisemitism should not be protected under the freedom of speech act.
            Like the porn question or the bare breast question. If you make a law it will work in 98% of the cases. So if you make an anti-discrimination law it will work in most cases. The same with conspiracy theories.

            I used to love the anarchism of the internet, a place where everybody could say whatever they wanted. Now, I'm not so sure anymore.

            1. GA Anderson profile image91
              GA Andersonposted 3 years agoin reply to this

              "I used to love the anarchism of the internet, a place where everybody could say whatever they wanted. Now, I'm not so sure anymore."

              Well damn! We did find something to agree on. ;-)


              1. peterstreep profile image79
                peterstreepposted 3 years agoin reply to this

                Freedom of Speech and it's limitations is not a clean-cut case.
                Take care GA,
                thanks for your opinion and input.

    3. mike102771 profile image73
      mike102771posted 3 years agoin reply to this

      Does Facebook call themselves a publisher?

      From what I understand, their status isn’t so easily defined.

      I think that for many here in the US, we have this notion that our freedom of speech is absolute across the world, but many countries don’t share this idea, including such places as Canada, The UK, and Germany.
      Outside of libel, newspapers and magazines can publish anything they want, and that right is protected by the freedom of the press and free speech. They don’t do that because they want to sell the news. There are no laws, nor should there be governing what constitutes news. I know I don’t want some politician in Washington D.C. deciding what I can or can’t read or know.

      Tomorrow the Wall Street Journal or Washington Post could run a front-page article proclaiming their love for Hitler, denial of the Holocaust while promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism, Aliens killed Kennedy, and we all live on a flat earth. They could do all this, and all the government could do is urge people not to read it.

      1. peterstreep profile image79
        peterstreepposted 3 years agoin reply to this

        I don't know what Facebook calls themselves. But if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck it's a duck although the duck can call itself an elephant.

        Tomorrow the Wall Street Journal or ....
        But they won't as they will loose customers as you say.
        This is the tragic part of Facebook, it allows scams, fake news and conspiracy theories because they make money out of it. The ethical code is thrown completely out of the window. I have no problem with companies making money. But if you sell hatred and bigotry there is a big problem. It's like selling weapons to countries with child soldiers. You can defend yourself by saying that you are not pulling the trigger. But you give people the means to do so.

        In Holland for instance magazines are not allowed to publish the full name and picture of a suspect murderer. Can you do so in the US?
        It's not allowed because the person has not yet been convicted.

        The Netherlands are an open and tolerant society but you can be sued for publishing hate speech. You can say in a bar that you want to kill the president or gas all the Jews without juridical consequences. But not if you do such a thing on tv or in the newspaper or on social media. There is a difference I would say.

        1. mike102771 profile image73
          mike102771posted 3 years agoin reply to this

          In a legal sense, it doesn’t matter how it appears; it matters what it is. No one should allow the government to work assumptions, just facts.

          And yes, I hope the Wall Street Journal or any newspaper running such fake news would lose all their subscribers.  What I don’t want to see is the government coming in and ordering them to take any information down.

          It’s a bit trickier here; it comes down to the news provider and just how public the suspect is. In most cases and much to the lament of anyone suspected in a crime, the media can use their names if they aren’t children (and in some cases, they do it anyway). There have been more than a few people whose lives have been ruined by this practice. Someone has a movie coming out soon about a man seen as a suspect in a bombing during the Atlanta Olympics. Some say it’s the price for having a free press.

          It is possible to face charges or be sued for hate speech if that speech advocates violence at a person or group, but as of right now, there is no real legal (US) description of hate speech (not counting calls for violence, terror, or riots). It’s illegal to use language that will cause panic (screaming fire in a movie theater), and there are liability issues, but libel isn’t criminal (in the US).

          1. mike102771 profile image73
            mike102771posted 3 years agoin reply to this

            If it isn't already apparent, most Americans don't trust their government. It goes back to our founding when the founders wrote a document to outline our government, the first thing they did was to write out amendments (ten of them) spelling those writes out (in some cases not very well). We didn't trust them then, and we don't now.

            Among those bills of rights is the freedom of the press and free speech.

    4. Don W profile image82
      Don Wposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      "Facebook is a publisher."

      I'll play devil's advocate, just for the sake of discussion. Is Facebook a publisher? I know Facebook itself seems a bit confused about this, but what makes it a publisher rather than simply a platform that enables others to publish messages and content?

      1. mike102771 profile image73
        mike102771posted 3 years agoin reply to this

        That could be a word usage. If you say post rather than publish, does that change what it is? Most publishers publish their work and don't act as a platform for people to post their random thoughts. If I remember right, Facebook was established as a social network akin to the old party phone lines allowing people to connect with others.

  2. MikeSyrSutton profile image70
    MikeSyrSuttonposted 3 years ago

    I agree!

  3. Live to Learn profile image60
    Live to Learnposted 3 years ago

    Anyone who thinks videos on a social media platform constitute news, without corroborating through trusted sources, probably shouldn't be voting.

    Facebook is a social media platform. They can't fact check everything posted. But, if you think that's fair then everyone posting bs, creating enraged SJW flash mobs should be censored also.

  4. wilderness profile image95
    wildernessposted 3 years ago

    Only if you are willing to require the only real platforms the public has (social media) to make their statement to censor what they have to say.  Even then you have a major problem as it is not economically possible for, say, FB to hire enough censors to check every post before it is made public.  All you would accomplish is shutting down those platforms the public uses to express their viewpoint.

    1. peterstreep profile image79
      peterstreepposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      Facebook has enough money to tackle the spread of hatred against others or the promotion of dangerous lies like denying the holocaust.
      Would you be ok with a person like Hitler buying for a million on ads to micro target people and fuel them with hate?
      Any newspaper, film or magazine would be sued, so why not Facebook?

      1. wilderness profile image95
        wildernessposted 3 years agoin reply to this

        Because newspapers, film and magazines have a couple dozen "articles" (from actual articles to editorials to letters from readers) to check each week while FB and other social media have millions (billions?) each and every day.

        You say they have the funding, but how did you determine that?  Do you have a plan, complete with financial figures, on just how to address the problem?

        Actually, I would rather have (as non-government) Hitler buying those million ads than a government deciding what can be said by it's people.  One leads to a rather small group of people believing the lie, the other leads to Nazi Germany (Hitler was the government, after all, and determined what could be said).  In my opinion, free speech is absolutely necessary in a free country and I am more than willing to pay the price for allowing it.  I recognize that much of Europe is moving away from that concept, but it only reinforces my opinion.

        1. peterstreep profile image79
          peterstreepposted 3 years agoin reply to this

          Free speech is incredibly important. But there is also a matter of hate crime. And giving people a platform to millions.
          I don't see a difference in a corporate Hitler or a Government Hitler. Both have the capacity to change societies.
          A corporation like Facebook, Apple and Google can buy countries. They have the funding to buy governments.
          The Artificial Intelligent Algorithms used by Google, Amazon and Facebook are incredible. They can target any sub group, know your spending behaviour, where you are, where you have been the last years by GPS, when you go to the pub etc.
          It's a piece of cake for them to sift out groups like The Stormfront, the KKK or Red Ice TV who are openly promoting hatred.
          But Facebook doesn't. Only because there was pressure from the outside it put down the Stromfront Facebook page, not out of their own moral standard.

          Freedom of Expression is a great thing, but not holy.
          I do not call a speech from a Hitler kind of guy on a platform of millions free speech. It is hate speech and should not be given such a platform as it poisons minds. And because of such extreme views the moral code of what is acceptable is lowered in a society.

          1. Eastward profile image86
            Eastwardposted 3 years agoin reply to this

            Your last paragraph seems pretty on part with how Germany, generally thought of as a leading free country in the modern world, handles things. Germans mostly have freedom of speech, but when it comes to Hitler and Nazis, things are different. It's illegal to display swastikas, for example.

          2. wilderness profile image95
            wildernessposted 3 years agoin reply to this

            You have now gone from prohibiting free speech to prohibiting any speech at all from any groups you disagree with, under the guise of declaring that it is "hate speech".  What you're missing, or ignoring, is that a government will declare your words as "hate speech" if they decide they don't like it.

            Example:  Trump's demands to build a southern wall can be hate speech because it targets people entering the country illegally.  It's not, but the claim will be made.

            Declaring abortion to be murder is hate speech because it targets women controlling their own body.  It's not, but it will be declared so.

            Declaring women have the right to control their bodies will be hate speech because it promotes murder.  It's not and it doesn't, but it will be defined that way.

            Any talk of keeping transgenders out of the "wrong" bathroom/dressing room will be hate speech. 

            Any mention of crime rates in inner cities or of gangs there will be hate speech.

            Any mention that people are living off our welfare rather than earning their own way will be hate speech.

            And yes, all of these things have been classified that way by those that disagree with what is said.  It is a quick, easy way to demonize anything that we don't want to hear.  Simply claim it is "hate speech" and therefore not to be allowed.

            1. peterstreep profile image79
              peterstreepposted 3 years agoin reply to this

              Did I?

              I would not consider the examples above as hate speech. And I should not be the person to judge and make demands. But a judge who is specialised in the matter.

              -It is a quick, easy way to demonize anything that we don't want to hear.  Simply claim it is "hate speech" and therefore not to be allowed.-
              Completely agree.

              I think there is a difference between saying something in private or in public though. If you have a channel or Facebook page and everyday you mobilize people to call others scumbags, dehumanizing them and wishing them harm. If you do this on a regular basis. Yes than it's hate speech. Like an extreme Imam preaching every day to his disciples that Americans should be killed. Or extreme KKK members preaching that black people should be exterminated.
              What I find problematic is not their private opinion. They can have that, I won't be friends, but fine...whatever.
              But what I find disturbing is that companies like Facebook give these people a platform to reach millions and sew hatred and misinformation day after day after day. Lies that spread like wildfire.
              I think there is a danger in that.


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