How do we reconcile the concerns regarding free speech, fake news, and Facebook?

A consideration of the nexus between the components
 by Richard @ Flexible Reality – Nov. 3rd, 2019
How difficult would it be to implement a program on FB to assign a value to each post with something like the “Seller Feedback” rating used on Amazon and eBay?
Most folks acknowledge the basic validity of FACTCHECK.ORG. ( the Annenberg Project…and can be encouraged to agree that NPR, CSM, and NYT are generally mostly factual while FOX NEWS is certainly not…so if an algorithm, somewhat like a spell checker, just evaluates the posting for basic grammar, presence/absence of logical flaws, and then searches an online db of related data, combined with a user component along the lines of “likes” and “shares”, then a ROUGH value could be assigned to any post which could be displayed to the side of a post, whether the original article, or any following comments as an aid to viewers.
The reason why user feedback alone is insufficient for the task as with “likes”, is it is a wholely viewer, (and bots) driven process. Viewers of The Daily Stormer, Red State, et al could be satisfied that 400 people “like” an article; but if they saw a marker showing it to be “mostly false” or “pants on fire” then they would have to assert the assignment process is invalid…which over time would be a losing argument.
FB’s regulation of sexual content and China’s FB mods amply demonstrate that FB-California is capable of doing as I suggest. Twitter asserts it is going to restrict all political ads on its service.
Zuck and others are making the case the Internet should remain “The Wild West”…but IMHO we lost that territory a long time ago.
We know from the studies by Milstein, Altemeyer, and others that framing, community affirmations, and motivated learning have a huge impact on what people will accept, and -=believe-=.
I am NOT arguing for censorship, but rather for an independent “marker” assigned to FB content that assigns a “fact-check-plus” button on posts to help sift through an avalanche of information. This will become even more necessary once the manufactured videos become commonplace.
Many are familiar with this quote, but I post it anyway:
“Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.” – Carl Sagan – 1995

Some will read this argument as solely a “fact check” consideration and ask: “Who determines the content of the “facts”? – I am not arguing for the creation of such a single-purpose function on FB, and other online sources, rather for a marker that provides SOME measure of reliability, authenticity, accuracy, and fair reporting.

Professors grant grade ranges from A+ to F….they do not consider the truth of what a student writes in an essay. We have the Fogg Index, the Flesch-Kincaid Grade and other online tools to evaluate grammar – but these do not check the accuracy…the “truth” of statements….just how they are articulated. I am arguing for this grammar/content/context check, PLUS user inputs, PLUS independent fact-checking, PLUS an authentication element, and PLUS even a “citizenship component” which could, for example, degrades nasty, abusive, and violent content.
The nexus between free speech, fake news and Facebook becomes all the more intricately connected when we acknowledge that a huge number of citizens around the World no longer depend on newspaper for “News”- but instead depend on Facebook, Twitter, and online sites.


Ben Baker, 30 year veteran of newspaper publishing

FB is not truly a part of the equation. FB is a private entity, not subject to government regulation in the above.

FB is a true part of the equation because free speech means the man who owns the press has the right to free speech.

FB matters more because it has two options:

If it begins to regulate non commercial speech that is legal in the US, then it becomes responsible for all such speech on the website. Don’t think FB wants to go there.

If it allows free speech, unregulated and legal that is, then it can legally claim to be above the ramifications.


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