Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Could tech require account holders to show good "social credit" some day? It relates to another question about journalism and licensing

Given all the wild controversies about journalism and social media recently, I looked up to see what the scuttlebutt is right now on whether journalists should be “licensed”.
As the video above indicates, David Pakman presented congressman Jim Lucas (R-Ind) proposed in 2017, although his purpose was “rhetorical” – is a “fundamental right” undermined if a license is required to exercise it?  Driving a car is a privilege, after all. (The second amendment isn’t worded quite the same way as the first – “Madison’s Music”, below.)

Getting back to 2019, the main site I found was weighted about 75% “No”.  Of course, you could have some international body handle the licensing to avoid the politics of any government, but any body at all will have a political bias and power structure to maintain.  As we saw from the Covington Kids last January, mainstream media, the “Fourth Estate” does rush to conclusions to get the ratings and can get it wrong – and tends to have a bias toward the Left.

So independent sites and operations do act as an “immune system” for the overall truth telling. It’s a sort of herd immunity, vaccination thing.

Yet, it seems well to consider some sort of rating of reporters, especially those who report new stories as is.  In that regard, raw footage is normally the best source of truth there is, although it needs to remain unedited and be complete for an incident. That’s the philosophy, then, behind Ford Fischer’s News2Share.

Sites like Newsguard will rate well-known sites as to objectivity and political bias.

Then the problem is paying for it.  YouTube is finding that advertisers are uncomfortable now with news on controversial events from independent sources, since they tend to include more of the disturbing material.  Should an event like Christchurch be shown as it unfolds for “news value”?  Almost everyone in the tech and political community says, no.

So there is a legitimate argument that knowing that their protests will be livestreamed may be an incentive for some groups or individuals to commit violent acts.

There is also the issue of commentary, and when news reporting slips into opinion.  My own style is to combine the details from different sources, connect the dots, and point out the possible consequences of events unfolding in combination.

When people call themselves journalists, when should they condemn public officials?  After all, that’s opinion, right.  Trump seems to be the exception. (Howard Gardner, Aug 2016, Huffington Post).

If you want an example of undercover reporting as such, look at Alex Zielinksi, Blogtown, with insights as to what really happened in Portland.

The experience of reaching the entire globe without a gatekeeper is broader than journalism alone. Suddenly, around 1998 or so, as we discovered the power of search engines, ordinary people had the capability to speak and be heard by anybody.   “Getting published” was now less of a deal than it had been.

Viewed that way, it’s not impossible to imagine that some social credit should go with the “privilege” that we hadn’t had before.  Nobody thought about it that way during the days of the Internet as the “wild west”.

And some on the Left believe that no one should be allowed to articulate his own thoughts spontaneously, but should belong to a group and be ready to serve that larger group’s purpose – solidarity.  To allow otherwise is to allow better-off or privileged individuals to use speech as power (that’s Marcuse’s idea).
In fact, there is a theory, at least suggested in a book (“Madison’s Music”, by Burt Neuborne) that maintains that the First Amendment (and entire Bill of Rights) is written in a sequence that should be followed to maintain integrity.  An individual speaker should be willing to back up his speech with action within a group, and petition. You can imagine where this could go – a world where tech companies only allow self-publishing accounts for those with “good social credit” which might encompass community engagement – even to the point of proving you can raise money for other people’s causes first – and then your speech is no longer just your own.   We already see this with Facebook’s prompting users to run fundraisers on their own accounts. 
 I generally don't respond to appeals and petitions and begs, unless I am already committed in some way to dealing with the issue at hand or need, or have a reason to support the group personally (beyond just being an intersectional disadvantaged group). Yet some people would see willingness of someone like me to "play ball" with the system as part of the whole picture of legitimate use of the principles behind the First Amendment.

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