Facebook: Slipslidin’ Away from the Filterin’ Thing

May 28, 2020

Censorship, flagged tweets, and technology companies trying to be a nervous parent? Sound familiar. DarkCyber finds the discussion interesting. One of the DarkCyber team spotted “Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Says Platform Policing Should Be Limited To Avoiding Imminent Harm.” The main point of the write up contains this statement:

… the platform’s criteria for removing content remains “imminent harm” — not harm “down the line.”

The article provides some training wheels for the DarkCyber researcher:

Zuckerberg said several times that, in the balance, he thinks of himself “as being on the side of giving people a voice and pushing back on censorship.”

Some of the companies powering the digital economy appear to be willing to make decisions about what the product (those who use the services) or the customers (advertisers) can access.

The article provides a context for Facebook’s “imminent harm”; for example:

Facebook’s 2.6 billion users give it unprecedented reach, noted Susan Perez, a portfolio manager at Harrington Investments, who brought up the issue of political interference and fraudulent content on the platform. “Society’s risk is also the company’s risk,” she said.

The article includes a “Yes, but…”; to wit:

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s president of global affairs and communications, said during a question and answer session, said the company doesn’t think a private tech company “should be in the position of vetting what politicians say. We think people should be allowed to hear what politicians say so they can make up their own mind and hold the politician to account.”

As censorship becomes an issue in the datasphere, is Facebook “slip sliding away”? Is the senior management of Facebook climbing a rock face using an almost invisible path, a path that other digital climbers have not discerned?

But wait? Didn’t that pop song say?

You know the nearer your destination
The more you’re slip slidin’ away

Sure, but what if Facebook’s slip slidin’ is movin’ closer?

Stephen E Arnold, May 28, 2020


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