Abusing media jeopardizes our precious and fragile democracies

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Sean in Ottawa

First, this place is social media. Bears a thought.

I think that social media is destroying democracy. I also think that this is for a couple reasons: one that people who write anonymously have no accountability and would not stand by what they say if they had to attach their name to it. Secondly, social media was supposed to be about leveling the playing field but organizations and people with means can create multiple identities.

Social media has many benefits and I would not want to see it destroyed or a monopoly given back to the organizations, power and money that controlled traditional media. Where social media is hurting us most is where the traditional powers are able to not only take power in it but appear to be of the people.

For this reasons, I would prefer to see social media fixed.

First, let's admit that anonymous is not really perfect. Governments can still track who is saying what in cases where they want so what I am proposing, will not fix that but it may not make it worse.

Allowing anonymous posts allows people to hide behind this in order to have multiple identities and to say things no person would say to another if they were identified. This is not good. The problem it answered is that people, for professional reasons would be able to participate who otherwise would not. Having seen what has happened to social media, I wonder if the harm done by allowing anonymous posts is not even greater than the harm done by preventing people from posting anonymously (such as in the past where your name would have to appear on letters to the editor). Some people would be horrified to have their names attached to what they say. Others might feel safer not having unamed people be able to attack them. No matter which way you go it is a compromise and I am not sure which is worse.

One way of addressing thsi could be to allow each person to have a single online persona. This could allow more freedom to the people who would have to restrict what they say for professional reasons. It would reduce the accountability and probably allow some of the venom but it may be less than we have now. There would need to be a mechanism to register these with IPs perhaps to make sure that a person cannot have more than one. I see problems with that but it is not impossible. I think it could reduce the problem.

Another possibility would be to have a serial number unique to a person appear with their online name: this would allow people to see where there is a situation where many different identities are being used by the same person. It would not reduce the problem of anonymous posts from an accountability point of view but help mitigate the problem of many online identities being created by the same person or non-existent persons.

I do not have the answer as to how to make this work but I feel that the two reasons why social media is a problem are:

1) lack of accountability in anonymous posts

2) one person or entity being able to seem like many individuals

Ironically, both problems with social media existed in the traditional media prior to the advent of social media (not in letters to the editor, however)  and social media was intended to make things more democratic by leveling this advantage. Social media is making this worse because it allows people to think it is leveling the playing field when it is masking the same powers to do the same thing in social media that they did before -- except they are able to be more anonymous. If social media could be reformed to deliver on the promise it originally had we woudl not ahve the same problem.

Now of course I am sympathetic to the simple way Quizzical put it that people are the problem, she is right in many ways -- the problem with that is that this does not come with a mitigation strategy.

I wish I had better solutions but this is for discussion and I think we have to consider what social media was meant to do and why it is becoming a problem -- and then how to deliver on what it was supposed to do with less of the problem.

 

Mr. Magoo

I used to like the Hall of Fame thread, but eventually even that got "weaponized".

 

NorthReport

Shut ‘Em Down if they can’t ensure appropriate community standards What are we waiting for - more incidents?

https://www.nationalnewswatch.com/2019/04/29/record-number-of-anti-semitic-incidents-fuelled-by-online-hate-bnai-brith/#.XMdH4RYTGaO

voice of the damned

cco wrote:
cco wrote:
While nobody's claimed responsibility for the attacks yet, the choice of victim group, location, and date strongly suggests that the attacks had something to do with religion. If the Sri Lankan government banned all religious observances for a while, just to keep people safe, how many people would find that acceptable?

Well. I'll be damned:

Sri Lankan Catholic churches shut, Muslims ordered to stop wearing veils as tensions rise

I would wager, though, that assurances have been given to the Roman Catholic Church and the Muslim community that these are definitely going to be very temporary measures.

And even with the shutdown, the Catholics are still able to access a televised mass(albeit receiving the Eucharist is probably a bit of a problem for most). So, it's not like the government is trying to prevent people from actually hearing the ideas the RCC wishes to promulgate. Which I think is kind of the point of banning social media.

That said, I don't precisely know what is up with the social media shutdown. Is it still going on? And if so, are there signs that it will soon be coming to an end?

NorthReport

There is a bit of difference between expressing normal religious views and promoting hatred and violence towards others.

NorthReport

There is a bit of difference between expressing normal religious views and promoting hatred and violence towards others.

Pondering

I know little of Sri Lanka so I can't say whether a social media shut down is appropriate or not but I doubt it. Atrocities happened before social media came along.  It seems these men were wealthy individuals not part of a mob movement. I am sure religious leaders on both sides are calling for calm. 

Really bad stuff can be filtered. I would like facebook to have to pay for an external organization to identify and remove offensive content. 

Forced identification is out of the question. Maybe to a private site admin but even then. Women and the marginalized get death threats for what they say. Activists in some countries are endangered. 

If I had to use my real name on this site I wouldn't be here because I would be afraid of being targeted by some nutcase. 

NorthReport

Hate speech is on the rise—and our laws need to be adapted to address the problem

https://www.straight.com/news/1233936/sarah-leamon-hate-speech-rise-and-our-laws-need-be-adapted-address-problem

cco

Every time I see a column like that, I marvel at the author's confidence that their speech will never be termed hateful by those who object to it.

NorthReport

A lot of social media is like the plague!

Doctors worry as anti-vaccination messages escalate from social media misinformation to personal threats

 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/anti-vaccination-threats-against-canadian-doctors-1.5115955

voice of the damned

NorthReport wrote:

A lot of social media is like the plague!

Doctors worry as anti-vaccination messages escalate from social media misinformation to personal threats

 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/anti-vaccination-threats-against-canadian-doctors-1.5115955

I'm pretty sure I don't want to be adding "quack medical theories" to the list of things that governments should have the power to ban. It wasn't too long ago that acupuncture was considered fringe, now it's covered by most provincial health plans.

Which is not the same thing as saying that I think anti-vax is going to enjoy a similar upsurge in credibility, just that it shouldn't be within the power of government to declare these questions closed.

NorthReport

Comparing apples and oranges.

When it is contagious yes absolutely the government needs to shut down the anti-science crowd

https://www.salon.com/2019/05/01/measles-cases-flare-beyond-700-and-anti-vaxxers-the-apex-helicopter-parent-are-to-blame/

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

voice of the damned wrote:

I'm pretty sure I don't want to be adding "quack medical theories" to the list of things that governments should have the power to ban. It wasn't too long ago that acupuncture was considered fringe, now it's covered by most provincial health plans.

Which is not the same thing as saying that I think anti-vax is going to enjoy a similar upsurge in credibility, just that it shouldn't be within the power of government to declare these questions closed.

I have to disagree with this, at least in the case of vaccinations. Fringy cancer cures are pretty disgusting, but they don't have the social implications of anti-vaxx, so I wouldn't be as quick to ban them. After all, the only victims are the marks who fall for the scam. With anti-vaxx, the consquences are much wider.

I would suggest that a close analogy is building standards. Code says I have to use a certain minimum width of electrical wire so that I won't burn the neighborhood down. Suppose I find some quack electrical engineer who wrote a paper saying that half the width required by code is quite safe, and in fact, using the width specified will cause illness to the inhabitants of the house. That doesn't mean I should be free to build unsafe structures.

Similarly, parents have no right to refuse to vaccinate their children just because they have heard totally unfounded rumours about alleged dangers. As far as I know, the whole movement is based on one paper, which has since been recalled by the journal that published it, and the author of which (Andrew Wakefield) has been stripped of his medical license by the British authorities. You might as well let them set the neighbourhood on fire.

voice of the damned

Just to be clear, I don't think people should be able to withhold vaccination from their children.

In your analogy, I'd say the fringe engineer should still be free to crank out his theories on his website. That doesn't mean the government shouldn't hold to the scientific consensus in determining what is required for construction in their jurisdiction.

And the engineering journals should still refuse to publish the crank's articles, if they don't measure up to the existing standards. The professional guilds might have something to say about his continued membership, as well. 

 

voice of the damned

^ I'll admit the discussion becomes somewhat more complicated if someone is advising parents not to vaccinate their kids, rather than simply giving reasons, however spurious, that vaccination is bad. Part of me wants to say that it should be no different from saying "Don't pay your taxes because the government spends it on [whatever thing the speaker doesn't like]", but the immediate consequences of people following the anti-vax advice are more severe, of course.

WWWTT

@VOTD an Michael Moriarity 

Taking  an electrical practice issue and comparing it to a medical one is way out there and not helpful in several ways (in my opinion)

I had an issue with my son not being vaccinated for chicken pox (I forget the actual name of the vaccine) because our family physician felt that since he already had it at 9 months old he didn’t need it. He advised me to not have him vaccinated for it. 

Turns out the Ontario government changed the vaccination laws one year before my son was born and our doctor fucked up. This became a nightmare with Peel region health and my sons school board. 

I ended up getting pissed off at my doctor for not being up to date with the law. And got him to vaccinate my boy. 

However my doctor did have a strong case! And after some research, Ontario has the strictest laws in Canada regarding vaccines. And guess who was a big political contributor to the previous liberal government? Yep you guessed it, the pharmaceutical companies making the vaccine!

sorry for the thread drift. 

voice of the damned

WWWTT:

Taking  an electrical practice issue and comparing it to a medical one is way out there and not helpful in several ways (in my opinion)

I think it works. And an electrical issue can become a medical issue, quite literally, if due to fires caused by faulty wiring people suffer severe burns or even death.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

voice of the damned wrote:

Just to be clear, I don't think people should be able to withhold vaccination from their children.

In your analogy, I'd say the fringe engineer should still be free to crank out his theories on his website. That doesn't mean the government shouldn't hold to the scientific consensus in determining what is required for construction in their jurisdiction.

And the engineering journals should still refuse to publish the crank's articles, if they don't measure up to the existing standards. The professional guilds might have something to say about his continued membership, as well.

This is a worthwhile distinction, which I pretty much agree with. Thanks for the clarification.

NorthReport

Part of the problem with social media is many governments have been way too slow to regulate it so that it is in sinc with community standards It’s not necessarily just social media however as there seems to be a real dumbing down of the daily news coverage Now it’s like mainstream media is murder central where every single act of violence is now given front page coverage and repeated ad infinitum on the newscasts There used to be a name for that type of media but it seems that mainstream media is now all over this culture of violence. And then we get surprised by the violence in our society. Go figure.

https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/may-2019/canadas-glaring-failure-regulate-facebook/

Mr. Magoo

That article is all about privacy laws.  You understand that strengthened privacy laws aren't really going to do much to stop extremism or fake news, yes?

NorthReport
NorthReport
voice of the damned

North Report wrote:

Now it’s like mainstream media is murder central where every single act of violence is now given front page coverage and repeated ad infinitum on the newscasts

Maybe, though I believe the phrase "If it bleeds, it leads" is one that long predates the advent of Facebook.

NorthReport

Why Facebook’s Latest Ban Was So Underwhelming

Because the deplatforming was opaque, ostensibly limited, and staged like a spectacle.

 

https://slate.com/technology/2019/05/facebook-alex-jones-ban-underwhelming.html

NorthReport

Trump: We're 'looking into' banning of right-wing commentators on social media

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/05/03/trump-twitter-facebook-conservatives-banning-1301505

voice of the damned

I believe Harry Truman siezed the steel mills during the Korean War, declaring them vital to America's interests. Maybe Trump should try something like that with Facebook, if he feels so strongly about keeping Alex Jones on the site.

https://tinyurl.com/y62cuy4q

 

Aristotleded24
josh

Calls for violence against members of Congress and for pro-Trump movements to retake the Capitol building have been circulating online for months. Bolstered by Mr. Trump, who has courted fringe movements like QAnon and the Proud Boys, groups have openly organized on social media networks and recruited others to their cause.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/06/us/politics/protesters-storm-capitol-hill-building.html

NorthReport

Shut 'em down as humans are just too stupid to use online forums appropriately.

kropotkin1951

NorthReport wrote:

Shut 'em down as humans are just too stupid to use online forums appropriately.

LMAOROF

Indeed the intellectual capabilities of many people on the interweb are remarkably low. I think it comes from reading copious amounts of US media propaganda. And then some of them repost article after article of imperial bullshit.

I still think they should be allowed to post though. Over the years I have learnt how to scroll through ten to fifteen posts of such drivel links, with ease.

NorthReport

Are you able to post anything without sharing your hatred of America?

kropotkin1951

NorthReport wrote:
Are you able to post anything without sharing your hatred of America?

Please stop salivating all over my posts. Your programming is showing.

Pondering

NorthReport wrote:
Are you able to post anything without sharing your hatred of America?

You call being critical of US media propaganda and those who promote it "hatred of America".  I am shocked and saddened by what has happened to the US.  Trump doesn't have majority support but he still has an enormous amount even after everything that has happened. The mainstream media, including CNN, is more responsible for the unrest than social media. 

 

NorthReport

Twitter, Facebook, etc. have been enabling Trump, making millions with him, and destroying democracy in the process. Removing his Twitter account  now is way too little, way too late.

kropotkin1951

NorthReport wrote:

Twitter, Facebook, etc. have been enabling Trump, making millions with him, and destroying democracy in the process. Removing his Twitter account  now is way too little, way too late.

What a fine view of democracy, letting billionaires and their minions decide who gets to post on social media. What could possibly go wrong? I for one think it is clearly time to reign in the control that we have given over the broadband that operates in our space. If we are going to have internet censorship of political opinions and calls to mobilization then I sure don't want the US media oligarchy to be in charge.

NorthReport

Yea, letting right-wing racist thugs organize online works just fine doesn't it.  

kropotkin1951

NorthReport wrote:

Yea, letting right-wing racist thugs organize online works just fine doesn't it.  

I guess you are beginning to appreciate why the Chinese government will not allow sedition on platforms that operate on its band waves.

NorthReport

Did you mean like blocking a WHO-lead investigation into Covid-19's origins? 

NorthReport

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NorthReport
NorthReport

Google suspends Parler from app store, urges tighter content moderation

https://thehill.com/policy/technology/533451-google-apple-tell-parler-to...

NorthReport

Here's an unfortuate incident that happpened at the New York Times. It doesn't mean the NYT should be written off. Shit happens, but but when the eraser wear's out before the lead in the pencil it is being overdone.  

https://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/journalism-doctor/2020/12/case-study-jo...

NorthReport

Trump circumvents Twitter ban with POTUS account, vowing to take on social media giant

President Trump tweeted Friday night from the official POTUS Twitter account, vowing to fight the social media giant for its permanent suspension of his personal account. 

However, those tweets, which a harangue about silencing free speech, were quickly removed. 

Trump promised to fight back against the social media giant and possible create a platform of his own. 

NorthReport

Is Apple going to be next to ban Parler?

NorthReport
contrarianna

kropotkin1951 wrote:

NorthReport wrote:

Shut 'em down as humans are just too stupid to use online forums appropriately.

LMAOROF

Indeed the intellectual capabilities of many people on the interweb are remarkably low. I think it comes from reading copious amounts of US media propaganda. And then some of them repost article after article of imperial bullshit.

I still think they should be allowed to post though. Over the years I have learnt how to scroll through ten to fifteen posts of such drivel links, with ease.

Quite so. North Report doesn't even see the irony:  the most relentless spammer of irrational opinion on Rabble's social media forum calling for the censorship of irrational opinion on social media.
Even so, I don't agree with North Report's apparent insistence to have North Report banned.

North Report wrote:
Part of the problem with social media is many governments have been way too slow to regulate it so that it is in sinc (sic) with community standards It’s not necessarily just social media however as there seems to be a real dumbing down of the daily news coverage...

The definition of "community standards"? Community standards is whatever North Report would allow; for everything else, in his/her own words: "Fuck free speech". Community standards reflects the dominent  corporate media, government and/or predominant public opinion bias. Are Saudi Arabia and other repressive allys  in the US empire,  "too slow to regulate" to their community standards?

The US itself is no stranger to the whims of community standards. Of those who would be silenced under NR's authoritarian desire to "fuck free speech" with "community standards":

In the days and weeks after the 9/11 attack, Americans were largely united in emotional horror at what had been done to their country as well as in their willingness to endorse repression and violence in response. As a result, there was little room to raise concerns about the possible excesses or dangers of the American reaction, let alone to dissent from what political leaders were proposing in the name of vengeance and security. The psychological trauma from the carnage and the wreckage at the country’s most cherished symbols swamped rational faculties and thus rendered futile any attempts to urge restraint or caution.

Nonetheless, a few tried. Scorn and sometimes worse were universally heaped upon them....

For simply urging caution and casting a single “no” vote against war, Lee’s Congressional office was deluged with threats of violence. Armed security was deployed to protect her, largely as a result of media attacks suggesting that she was anti-American and sympathetic to terrorists. Yet twenty years later — with U.S. troops still fighting in Afghanistan under that same AUMF, with Iraq destroyed, ISIS spawned, and U.S. civil liberties and privacy rights permanently crippled — her solitary admonitions look far more like courage, prescience and wisdom than sedition or a desire to downplay the threat of Al Qaeda....  

These few who dissented from the instant consensus were, like Congresswoman Lee, widely vilified. Both Sontag and Chomsky were branded anti-American Fifth Columnists, while David Frum, writing in National Review, denounced Buchanan and others questioning the excesses of the War on Terror from the right as “Unpatriotic Conservatives”: no different, proclaimed the neocon, than “Noam Chomsky, Ted Rall, Gore Vidal, Alexander Cockburn, and other anti-Americans of the far Left.”....

It is stunning to watch now as every War on Terror rhetorical tactic to justify civil liberties erosions is now being invoked in the name of combatting Trumpism, including the aggressive exploitation of the emotions triggered by yesterday’s events at the Capitol to accelerate their implementation and demonize dissent over the quickly formed consensus. The same framework used to assault civil liberties in the name of foreign terrorism is now being seamlessly applied — often by those who spent the last two decades objecting to it — to the threat posed by “domestic white supremacist terrorists,” the term preferred by liberal elites, especially after yesterday, for Trump supporters generally. In so many ways, yesterday was the liberals’ 9/11, as even the most sensible commentators among them are resorting to the most unhinged rhetoric available....

https://greenwald.substack.com/p/violence-in-the-capitol-dangers-in-bbe

North Report's penchant for banning and  prosecution for those who deviate from community standards would certainly have silenced these voices.

 

NorthReport

Exactly! 

'Donald Trump plus the Internet brings extremism to the masses'

 

It was an Extremely Online riot.

Some of the people who stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, stalked its majestic halls, and delayed the certification of Joe Biden's victory were pro-Trump internet personalities, and others were their fans.

Rioters livestreamed their crimes, took selfies to commemorate the occasion, and chatted about their experiences later on social media services.

Elle Reeve, a CNN correspondent who has been covering the far right in the United States for many years, felt like she was seeing online extremism in person, streaming down the avenues of official Washington.

"People say Donald Trump plus the Internet brings out the extremists," Reeve said. "But I think the reality is an inversion of that: that Donald Trump plus the Internet brings extremism to the masses. There are many more regular people now who believe extreme things" -- for example, the inane belief that "there's a secret cabal of pedophiles at the very top of the American government."

Now it's sinking in: Wednesday's Capitol Hill riot was even more violent than it first appeared

Now it's sinking in: Wednesday's Capitol Hill riot was even more violent than it first appeared

As Reeve interviewed some of the Trump supporterswho descended on Washington, she saw that they defied the "tinfoil hat man somewhere in a cabin" stereotype of conspiracy theorists.

"These were not Internet basement dwellers," she said. "These are people with jobs ... I don't think, as a culture, we've grappled with the way social media is a brainwashing machine."

I interviewed Reeve for more than an hour for this week's "Reliable Sources" podcast, and asked her to recount her Wednesday reporting experience from start to finish. Reeve interviewed attendees at the so-called "Save America March" where Trump spoke in the morning, then headed toward the Capitol as rallygoers sought to protest Biden's certification. The protest devolved into a riot.

"I don't think there are enough words in English to describe the way emotion works in a mob like that," she said. "It's like an electrical current. It's joy, but it's menacing. And there's also this forward momentum that's just unstoppable."

"Because this was an older crowd," she added, "it was even all the more jarring. I mean, I think even on a basic level, you know, like what you learn as a kid, like respect your elders, it is shocking to see people who could be your parents scrambling over walls, acting crazy, acting immorally."

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/09/media/elle-reeve-firsthand-account-riot/i...

NorthReport

Don't wait, don't give them an inch, move on them now!

Apple and Google put conservative social network Parler on notice for violent posts

https://fortune.com/2021/01/08/parler-violence-trump-2020-election-twitt...

NorthReport

Is Trump's presidency over, as he's so quiet without his tweets?

But seriously is there a way to stop him from accessing the internet, and if not, why not?

NorthReport

Postelection Misinformation and Massacre Threats on Conservatives’ Favorite New Social Media App

Ted Cruz and Dinesh D’Souza have huge followings on Parler, a right-wing Twitter clone that has exploded in popularity since the election.

https://newrepublic.com/article/160157/parler-social-media-app-ranking-e...

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