Google, Facebook must set standards beyond fake news

Drew Margolin, a professor of communication at Cornell University who studies the way people communicate online and the role of accountability, credibility, and legitimacy within social networks, says that steps to regulate fake news online are attempts by social media companies to avoid facing up to their larger public role.


Margolin says:

“Fake news is just the tip of the iceberg for companies like Google or Facebook.

“Whether they like it or not, these companies have become a vital infrastructure for sharing knowledge and information.

“Right now these companies, particularly Facebook, are trying to downplay their public role by addressing concerns one at a time – fake news, trending topics, censored pictures – and by insisting that old models, such as that of Facebook as a ‘media company’ do not apply.

“Sooner or later, however, they are going to have to define a general standard. Such a standard would inform a coherent set of policies around what can be shared, how filtering and censoring works, as well as algorithmic transparency.

“Setting such a standard may generate controversy and resistance at first, but over time it will reduce reactions to individual crises.”

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