newsworthy; and that politicians have already been fact-checked (Fung). This controversy over the political advertisements exposed a deeper and more fundamental problem that dates back to the birth of the internet: the Telecommunications Act of 1996 gives social media platforms the license to host untruthful information under the name of freedom of speech as long as they do not endorse the content. This could range from simple misinformation, to bots, to fully-synthetic deep-fakes as discussed in Rothman’s essay. Printed media like newspapers and journals build relationships with their readers based on reputation. They establish this reputation by carefully checking information before publishing it. On social media however, there are no editors to fact check every post, which allows all kinds of content to spread at an unbelievable pace without control. Glenn Altschuler, a Dean at Cornell University, addresses Mark Zuckerberg’s response to the recent controversy of social media drawing criticism over its role in the spread of misinformation. In his article “Combating Fake News on Social Media Will Take a Village,” he notes that Zuckerberg went on to discuss how tech companies—including his own—can pose a threat to freedom of expression once they begin fact-checking and taking down posts that are apparently untrue, and returned to a familiar argument: that “independent bodies should be responsible for developing rules and norms surrounding content” (2). Altschuler progresses to explore the fine line between infringing on freedom of speech and rightfully censoring misinformation. Although he acknowledges that social media platforms cannot be held at the same standards of correctness as traditional media outlets, Altschuler argues that social media companies, too, should actively partake in facilitating and taking down synthetic contents since
Yang 5 the decline of public trust in media would also significantly hurt the value of social media platforms by reducing their credibility. In the process of establishing possible solutions, while Rothman strongly substantiates his argument by providing ample evidence from credible and respected sources and building on on the claims made by other professionals in the field, he falls short in developing his call to action. He is extremely cautious to formulate and develop an opinion of his own, even until the end of the essay; he leaves the writing open-ended, rather than attempting to suggest a solution. In contrast to Rothman, Altschuler focuses on exploring feasible options to tackle the conundrum in a considerably large section of his essay. He argues that the social media companies should invest in technology that “combines meta-data with text and language patterns” to identify fake news and reduce financial incentives for those who profit from disinformation, ultimately improving online accountability (2). He also suggests an approach that has been proven to be effective by The Guardian , a traditional daily newspaper company. The creation of a crowdsourced website would invite the users, or readers in particular, of social media to assess the information for themselves, flagging misinformation to be taken down. In addition,
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 7 pages?
- Fall '11
- Mass Media