Senate Hearing on Disinformation Nation: Social Media’s Role in Promoting Extremism and Misinformation — 3/26/21
6 Hours of questions revealed little to no positive actions being taken in addressing the role that the US government takes in mitigating abuse of technology platforms. Using the revocation of Sect 230 as a liability threat to the executives responsible for Facebook, Google and Twitter, member after member belated the point that there is negativity on the internet. Time and again accusations that tech CEOs profit from harmful information since their algorithms are validated by increasing the time that users spend on thier platforms. The accusations were then followed by interuptions and demands of binary yes or no answers.
This was not a Q&A session with the world leaders in information technology and artificial intelligence use cases, it was a public trial forcing the individuals to address limitations of their software to curb the public discourse of the world and accept responsibility for hostility resulting from aligned sentiment.
Not once, did I hear a genuine offer of support from the government to build a regulatory framework that the social media industry can use to defend against the fraud and abuse of the technology platforms. Nor the least did I hear any acknowledgement of the hypocrisy of data management and privacy concerns related to how the federal government obtains and stores private citizen user data, or the banking industry, or any other platform that collects user information data and utilizes it for profit. There is a blatant double standard in the approach, the demeanor, and the civility with which these individual are being subject to, and it’s un-fairness cannot be overstated.
The concept of mis-information is as old as politics, and I am sure that reeling through political ads that have been used to gain political power could be found for every one of the members of congress that suggest that Facebook, Google and Twitter have profited from mis-information can be readily found.
We are clearly playing with a double edged sword. This is not a technology issue, it is a culture issue. If we want to address the root of the problem, we have to be clear about what the problem is.
How about this as a starting point, Congress — execute your elected responsibility and appropriate a massive campaign for social media unity and responsibility. Facebook, Google, Twitter — own your piece of it and run the campaign with priority and accept a tax credit as payment for the services. The time has come and gone for you to expect further profit from the divide that has been sewn through your software.
If you need help with the algorithm to steer towards moderation rather than division, give me a call. I will need help with the coding, but the problem is crystal clear in my mind as well as in so many others who are invested in this issue. We just need to get to work on it, and the format of a public trial seems like a gigantic waste of everyone’s time.
So what are the next steps, who owns what, and what is the timeline that we are shooting for. These are basic project management questions. Is everyone on board with fixing this? Yes or no :)