It’s about time. Tech companies are beginning to take responsibility for hate speech and fake news that runs rampant on their sites.
Trump’s going to miss his favorite online conspiracy nut, Alex Jones. Tuesday, YouTube banned Jones from live streaming for 90 days on his InfoWars channel for hate speech and child endangerment.
If you don’t know Alex Jones, he’s the guy currently getting sued by the families of the Sandy Hook massacre because he says Sandy Hook is a hoax. He is the farthest of the far right and is Trump’s good buddy. Trump called Jones to thank him after the 2016 election.
If there is a silver lining to anything out of the 2016 election, it is that social media businesses have woken up to their responsibility to respond to hate speech and fake news. For example, this week you may have seen Facebook’s quarterly earnings report and their subsequent stock plummet. The report reflects their investment in safety and security measures, a response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Fighting Fake News & Hate Speech
What can we do to fight fake news and hate speech? Take control of your Free Speech rights. We have to control the narrative and we can on social media sites. You sign an agreement when you use YouTube or Facebook to follow community guidelines. People (or bots) can’t get away with saying anything. There are standards. And you CAN control who speaks on your page and the conversation that happens there.
Specifically on Facebook, I don’t let people hijack the conversation. I block people. If someone uses fake facts, I don’t try to correct them, I just delete their comment and block them. It’s my free speech to control what’s being said on my personal page and my business page. I welcome opposing viewpoints and opinions but 1) you have to be a real person and 2) you have to cite facts from reputable sources. If I don’t do this, people just end up screaming at each other.
My business has placed me on the public side of the internet for more than ten years. I joined Facebook in 2006 while in college when it first launched. From then on I’ve been an avid social media presence. When you get over a million views on YouTube, you get a lot of comments. This experience taught me to take control and guide conversations in a constructive direction.
Our civil discourse is vulnerable when we don’t control our online conversations. It’s how the Russians and other bad actors manipulate our system. The tech companies need to take responsibility. So do we as individuals.
We can’t just say “I won’t use Facebook anymore.” Two billion people use Facebook. That’s about one-fourth of the entire world’s population. Social media is not going away. The far right and the Russians understand the power of the dark side of social media. We need to take control, not run away. So, if somebody goes crazy on your page, BLOCK THEM.