Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Zuckerberg stirs controversy as he rationalizes some hate-motivated fake news on Facebook



Mark Zuckerberg has created a lot of controversy today by suggesting that he does not take down content just because it denies an accepted fact and tends to promote group hatred. He gave a discussion of why he allows Holocaust denial to stay on the site, as explained in Fast Company here, by Cale Guthrie Weissman.

Zuckerberg said he only takes down material that is directly threatening.  I believe that Facebook doesn’t allow certain materials (like private weapons sales, online pharmacies) that are at best legally gray and that are perceived as public safety hazards.

However, remember that recently Facebook published Community Guidelines (June 27) where it gave a staged explanation of how it handles hate speech, which it says is very much in the eyes of the beholder.


Material believed to be factually wrong and provocative does get treated in such a way that fewer people will see it.

The article also goes into why InfoWars might be allowed (the denial of the Sandy Hook gun attack), although pushed down.

These explanations comport with what was said Tuesday in a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee,  as discussed in the Washington Post as staging a right-wing threat to Section 230. 

But in general, the public seems to believe, much more today than a decade ago, that speakers allowed to publish on online platforms should be expected to take some responsibility for the literacy (or lack thereof) of their likely audiences, and should not be permitted to stir dissent by aiming stories they know are almost certainly historically false at readers whom they know are excitable and unable to process what they see cognitively.  This gets back to collective, authoritarian theories on propaganda.
  
Furthermore, many on the Left insist that bringing up “settled issues” just to look smart and objective is only a snarky way to further “bully” (uneducated) people in already “oppressed groups

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