Posts Tagged ‘Social media’

Facebook is just another disinformation source

May 13, 2016

That Facebook is biased and reflects the views of its owners/managers is neither a surprise or anything wrong. What I find reprehensible is the lie promoted by Facebook that ist is objective and unbiased. After the Gizmodo story this week, Facebook denied that it was spinning the news. But the latest revelations show that the allegations were fundamentally true. The simple truth is that Facebook promotes certain news stories and suppresses others. They don’t manufacture news. But what they do is to spread a skewed version of what is news. And that is disinformation. Again, nothing wrong with that. It is what every newspaper or TV channel does. But the prejudices and biases of, say, the Washington Post are not hidden under a false cloak of objectivity.

facebook disinformation

facebook disinformation

The shattering of the cloak of objectivity around Facebook and its subjective choice of news stories to promote or to suppress can no longer be ignored by Zuckerberg and he has initiated an “investigation”. A biased platform with a hidden, skewed agenda is fundamentally incompatible with selling advertising where the advertisers need to know, objectively, how well their messages are targeted.

BBC:

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has said the company is investigating claims it censored news reports with conservative viewpoints. It follows a week of allegations in the media and discussion in the US Senate.

The tech news website Gizmodo had said Facebook staff suppressed articles on conservative topics from the site’s “trending” news section and “injected” others, even if they were not trending. ….

….. Mr Zuckerberg said he was inviting leading conservatives to meet him to discuss their views.

…… Gizmodo’s original report alleged that staff tampered with trending topic stories and were told to include stories published by the BBC, CNN and other mainstream news organisations ahead of smaller news sites.

It said the trending topics section was run like a newsroom, with curators able to “blacklist” or “inject” topics.

The report was followed by a release of documents to The Guardian, which appeared to show editorial decision-making by Facebook staff, alongside the company’s algorithm, to determine what is trending.

The Guardian:

Leaked documents show how Facebook, now the biggest news distributor on the planet, relies on old-fashioned news values on top of its algorithms to determine what the hottest stories will be for the 1 billion people who visit the social network every day.

The documents, given to the Guardian, come amid growing concerns over how Facebook decides what is news for its users. This week the company was accused of an editorial bias against conservative news organizations, prompting calls for a congressional inquiry from the US Senate commerce committee chair, John Thune. ….

….. But the documents show that the company relies heavily on the intervention of a small editorial team to determine what makes its “trending module” headlines – the list of news topics that shows up on the side of the browser window on Facebook’s desktop version. The company backed away from a pure-algorithm approach in 2014 after criticism that it had not included enough coverage of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, in users’ feeds.

The guidelines show human intervention – and therefore editorial decisions – at almost every stage of Facebook’s trending news operation, a team that at one time was as few as 12 people …… 

Facebook is in the business of skewed information dissemination and that skewing is effectively disinformation. Every entity involved in providing information must, by its selection of information to be distributed, also be involved in disinformation. But the additional problem for Facebook is that this disinformation and skewing of stories is not in the interests of the advertisers. Facebook is not just misleading its users, it is misleading its advertisers.


 

Shy people get depressed (courtesy Facebook)

September 9, 2014

Two articles today about research on Facebook usage.

Shy People Use Facebook More [Research]

Shy and introvert people spend more time on Facebook but disclose little information with friends and acquaintances, said Pavica Sheldon, assistant professor at The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s communications arts department.

Facebook addicts at a risk of developing depression

Facebook users spending a lot of time on the social networking site, might be feeling down, lonely and even depressed, claims a new report.

A recent study has revealed a link between a Facebook and the dampened mood of active users who feel they have “wasted time on doing” what they call “meaningless activity.”

Which in turn suggests that shy people use Facebook longer, are more likely to be addicted and therefore more likely to be depressed.

But I would have thought that shy people are more likely to be lonely and more likely to be depressed – anyway.

 

Intrusive ads are counter-productive – at least with me

February 6, 2014

I must be representative of some consumers since I do buy stuff.

I even buy quite a lot of stuff on-line. Tickets of any kind (theatre, airline, museum, train, football, hockey bus ……), books, music, electrical and electronic gadgets and a host of small articles capable of being delivered by post. We book hotels on-line and sometimes pay on-line as well. We generally don’t buy food or clothes on-line but we do sometimes (at least my wife does) respond to the flyers dropped into our letter box by local retailers. Nearly all automotive products or materials for house repairs are bought physically and not on-line though we may have searched on-line.

But what I observe is that when I buy-on line it is from sites that I know or for which I have searched on-line. Never by clicking on an ad at another site. Even when I search I always hop over the paid ads which show up at the top of the search results. For a store to show up in a search result is much more important in getting my custom than in their advertising having been seen on another site. I cannot recall a single instance in the last year of buying something in response to an on-line ad. But what I also observe is that there is some threshold level of intrusiveness which leads me to remove sites from my bookmarks. If a site directs me first to full-page ads which I have to click away – and especially if they make it difficult to find the “close” button – then those sites get removed from my bookmark lists. I don’t watch videos on-line if their ads don’t disappear within 5 seconds. If my mouse, when hovering over text, brings up too many intrusive ads then the entire site gets onto my “black-list”. I don’t mind registering for some services at some sites but if that process takes longer than about 30 seconds (perhaps a minute) then that site never gets visited again.  Of course it could be that some of the on-line ads are having a subliminal effect and reinforce my perceptions when I search for on-line stores – but it is not very likely.

Even on TV and especially since the break for commercials is so long (in Sweden a commercial break lasts 6 minutes and there are not many ads of high quality), the commercial break either leads me to surf other channels or to go do something else. In the last year or two I notice that there are more TV programmes that I watch only up to the first commercial break because I then go and do something else and never get back in time to watch the rest of the programme. If it is a sporting or political event, then I may well return to the programme – after the commercial break. In any event the people paying vast sums for making and airing the commercials do not capture my attention. If anything they create a resentment in me since I am either a “captive audience” or am being coerced to view their “nonsense”. And it is the resentment which leads to the content being classified in my mind as “nonsense”. I never watch TV shopping channels but they clearly don’t have me as their target audience. The very existence of the commercials is leading me to strategies to avoid them!

My behaviour is surely influenced by the presence of ads on-line and commercials on TV. However, the behaviour engendered in me is nearly always counter-productive from the viewpoint of the advertiser. Maybe I am an untypical consumer – but I doubt it.  Which makes me wonder how effective some of this advertising is?

Certainly advertising agencies and the industry in general will never admit that there can be too much advertising. They get paid for exposure (or apparent exposure) and not for sales achieved. They don’t suffer any penalty for resentment caused or customers driven away. But I would suggest that there is a threshold – very low in my case – at which on-line advertising and commercials on TV become counter-productive.

I get virtually no text ads on my phone. I stopped using Facebook and Twitter some months ago so at least I am not harassed by their ads. But from what I hear, the intrusiveness of the ads on the social media are now leading to some people reducing their use and, in some cases, ending their use of social media. Social media and their business models are still evolving but the assumption that advertising revenues can keep increasing forever is fundamentally flawed.

BBCTwitter reports $645m loss for 2013

Microblogging site Twitter has reported a net loss of $645m (£396m) for 2013, just three months after its flotation on the New York Stock Exchange. The loss was expected by analysts, who highlighted Twitter’s revenues, which rose 110% last year to reach $665m.

But a reported slow growth in user numbers was a bigger concern for investors. Twitter averaged 241 million monthly users in the last quarter of the year, up just 3.8% on the previous quarter. That represents a slowdown compared with a growth rate of 10% seen at the beginning of 2013. Timeline views were down nearly 7%, suggesting users were refreshing their feeds less often.

“What this report will do is it will question how mainstream is Twitter as a platform,” said Arvind Bhatia, an analyst at Sterne, Agee & Leach.

Shares fell as much as 12% in after-hours trading on Wednesday.

Will buying “likes” on Facebook and Twitter translate into votes?

November 29, 2013

Perception can be reality. And fake “likes” are being used to generate fake perceptions of popularity and goodness. Whether humans are dumb enough to be taken in by fake perceptions and whether perceptions can be converted into real voters and customers remains to be seen.

The assumption within the public relations and advertising industry is that  buying “likes” on social media actually leads to some advantage for the person/thing/company being liked. Clearly some companies perceive “likes” as being an effective – if unproven -advertising form. There seems to be no shortage of people offering ways of buying and boosting “likes”. Offers are readily available to arrange “2000 Facebook likes for only $17, or 5000 for $35 or 100,000 for $500”. Carlo De Micheli and Andrea Stroppa have been looking at Twitter and the underground market

De Micheli and Stroppa

De Micheli and Stroppa

 

We estimated fake accounts make up for 4% of Twitter’s user base

Does this make sense?

  • Facebook makes it harder to create fake accounts yet openly declares: “As of June 30, 2012, we estimate user-misclassified accounts may have represented approximately 2.4% of our worldwide MAUs and undesirable accounts may have represented approximately 1.5% of our worldwide MAUs. 
  • Every account can follow up to 2000 people. 
  • By statistically excluding overlapping fake accounts, just on the 12 main marketplaces (Fiverr, SeoClerks, InterTwitter, FanMeNow, LikedSocial, SocialPresence, SocializeUk,  ViralMediaBoost), it turns out there are around 20M fake followers on sale right now. 
  • Followers are sold at an average price of $18/1000 followers (barracudalabs). 
  • Sellers can make between $2 and $36 per fake account 
  • Multiplying it out definitely shows a multi-million-dollar market

Apart from entertainment figures wanting to boost their apparent popularity, the buying of “likes” has now become a routine matter for politicians facing elections. They are relying on the herd mentality to lead  to an increase of votes in their favour. The risk they take is that humans – when acting as a mob or a herd – don’t like acknowledging or being accused of acting like dumb animals. But the risk of this backlash is being taken as being small. Politicians in India are now all rushing to buy “likes” – as just another legitimate advertising ploy. They have been paying for favourable articles about themselves and negative articles about their opponents in the print media for many years. But even the most socially illiterate politicians – who wouldn’t know a tweet from a twit – are spending a great deal of money to be able to show huge numbers of “likes”!

What part fake likes and dislikes are going to have in the Delhi elections next week and the national elections next year, remains to be seen. It could be quite effective in a city like Delhi where the penetration of social media among the new urban population is high  but among whom political awareness is still relatively new.

FirstPostIn a new sting operation, Cobrapost has revealed how certain IT companies in India are working to manipulate social media campaigns by buying fake FB likes and followers on Twitter, and running negative campaigns against rivals of their clients and also engaging in creating panic among minority groups. The report states that the most of these companies are working on the behest of BJP and Modi, but also work for Congress sometimes, and in addition manage campaigns for multinational firms, corporations etc as well. …….  In a statement to Firstpost, Facebook said that where fake likes and profiles are concerned, “It’s a violation of our policies to use a fake name or operate under a false identity, and we encourage people to report anyone they think is doing this.

CobrapostOperation Blue Virus also makes certain stunning revelations. If the claims of the companies exposed are to be believed, among political parties, BJP is at the forefront in social media campaign, so is its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, with scores of companies working overtime for him. This puts a question mark on the claims of the BJP leadership that there is a wind blowing in favour of their party and Narendra Modi. The larger-than-life-image that Team Modi has assiduously carved out for Modi over the past one decade may not be that real, rather invented, and is reminiscent of the Goebbellian propaganda, to sway the opinion of gullible public. It is no surprise then that even a milder criticism of the BJP’s star campaigner invites scathing attacks from his followers on social media, claimed to be in millions in count. 

Paul Joseph Goebbels would have been in his element.

 

“Liking” on Facebook is a cheap, easy alternative to donating

November 8, 2013

For charities and other organisations dependent upon public donations, Facebook and other social media represent a glittering silver cloud with a very dark lining! Having an enormous reach via social media may seem like success but it could be counter productive. Potential donors presented with the alternative of clicking on a “like” button to making a real donation take the cheaper route. The more public the “like” the less likely the donation. They assuage their consciences and keep their pocket-books untouched!

Not really so surprising I suppose but a useful confirmation of behavioural tendencies.

Kirk Kristofferson, Katherine White, and John Peloza, The Nature of Slacktivism: How the Social Observability of an Initial Act of Token Support Affects Subsequent Prosocial Action, Journal of Consumer Research, Published by: The University of Chicago Press, Article Stable URL:http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/674137.

EurekAlert: 

Would-be donors skip giving when offered the chance to show public support for charities in social media, a new study from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business finds.

“Charities incorrectly assume that connecting with people through social media always leads to more meaningful support,” says Sauder PhD student Kirk Kristofferson, who co-authored the forthcoming Journal of Consumer Research article.

“Our research shows that if people are able to declare support for a charity publicly in social media it can actually make them less likely to donate to the cause later on.”

The study results add fuel to recent assertions that social media platforms are turning people into “slacktivists” by making it easy for them to associate with a cause without committing resources to support it.

In a series of studies, researchers invited participants to engage in an initial act of free support for a cause – joining a Facebook group, accepting a poppy, pin or magnet or signing a petition. Participants were then asked to donate money or volunteer.

They found that the more public the token show of endorsement, the less likely participants are to provide meaningful support later. If participants were provided with the chance to express token support more privately, such as confidentially signing a petition, they were more likely to give later.

The researchers suggest this occurs because giving public endorsement satisfies the desire to look good to others, reducing the urgency to give later. Providing token support in private leads people to perceive their values are aligned with the cause without the payoff of having people witness it.

With the holiday season being the biggest fundraising period of the year, the researchers say it is vital that charities take another look at their strategies and plan appropriately.

The ease and painlessness of  “liking” actually degrades the quality of the connection – be it for donations or for representing support for people or causes. When a “supporter” has little else to do than to click a “like” button, that support is not worth very much.

In relationship selling, I used to advise our salesmen that the way to judge a relationship was to consider the kind of “favour” the relationship could allow and support without jeopardising the relationship. The strength or quality of a “social connection” is still – I think – to be judged by the width and breadth and weight of the service that can be initiated and carried by the connection without breaking it. A “like” is pretty light-weight as social connections go.

Has Facebook reinstated beheading videos for the NSA or just for revenue – or for both?

October 23, 2013

That Facebook allows NSA access to all its material has become clear from the Snowden leaks.

In addition to phone records and email logs, the National Security Agency uses Facebook and other social media profiles to create maps of social connections — including those of American citizens.

That beheading and other videos with gratuitous violence are often uploaded on  Facebook is apparent (and whichever way Facebook twists and turns it is equally apparent that they must stand as the publishers – if not the authors – of such material). That much of the uploaded material is faked is also apparent (especially from areas of conflict). It is the gratuitous violence which attracts the voyeuristic surfers like a crowd gathering at the scene of a bloody incident. The sight of vultures gathering at the carcass of a kill attract even more scavengers of all kinds. It is the gatherings of the crowds which increases the revenue generating traffic for Facebook.

The more bloodstains on the road the larger the crowd of ghouls who gather. But among the ghouls are also perpetrators returning to the scene of their crimes where the “incident” was not just an accident. And that interests the NSA.

Why then has Facebook removed its ban on such material? There are very few voices supporting the move.

Who gains? Why the NSA and Facebook. The NSA needs material to mine in its search for the “bad” guys. And people who behead others or fake such pictures or are inspired by such material are of special interest. And Facebook wants the revenues.

ArsTechnicaFacebook said that overall, it received between 9,000 and 10,000 requests from authorities in the second half of 2012, pertaining to between 18,000 and 19,000 individual Facebook accounts. …. By the end of July 2013, we learned directly from an FISC judge that no corporation ever served with a “business record” court order under the Patriot Act has ever challenged one. This is despite the fact that the law provides them a means to do so.

Judging by what Facebook does – and not by what it says – also suggests that they are a lot closer to the NSA than they would like their users to know.

Beforeitsnews: About a year after Facebook reportedly joined PRISM, Max Kelly, the social network’s chief security officer left for a job at the National Security Agency, either a curious career move or one that makes complete sense. The Chief Security Officer at a tech company is primarily concerned with keeping its information inside the company. Now working for an agency that tries to gather as much information as it can, Kelly’s new job is sort of a complete reversal.

And it does not matter where in the world you are. If you are on Facebook your information is in a security agency’s database somewhere. It may not have been flagged as being of special interest but it’s there. If not at the NSA then surely at GCHQ or with the Germans or with the Russian agencies. Even if meta-data is only kept for some limited period of time – once your existence has been registered it can never be deregistered. And if the initial data was “flagged” for any reason then that individual will forever be under surveillance.

Social media anonymity encourages and nurtures the herd mentality

August 14, 2013

It seems to me that the anonymity afforded by social media encourages and nurtures the “herd” mentality in human behaviour. A herd mentality is the essence of “mob behaviour” and it would seem that social media – like mobs – remove or suppress the controls and judgement calls that individual behaviour is usually subject to. I suspect that it is the anonymity available together with the potential for a “flash, online crowd”  which together contribute to reaching the “critical mass” needed for the establishment of an “unthinking mob”.

Mob behaviour is characterised by being reactive and where individuals try to “outdo” the behaviour of their fellows under the cover of being anonymous. But it needs a sufficient number of individuals to reach some critical mass to qualify as a mob. It is visible in the positive sense during rapturous calls for an encore after a concert and in the reaction to high oratory. Or it shows up in a negative way in the behaviour of a lynch mob or in the reaction to the speech of a demagogue. It has shown up in the on-line, “mob-bullying” by social media of some vulnerable teenagers which has even led to their suicides. It shows up with the internet trollls hovering on the fringes looking for a “mob” to join on-line.

A member of a mob gains anonymity in the crowd and his individual actions – while contributing to the behaviour of the mob as a whole – are no longer identifiable as the actions of a specific individual. More importantly the individual behaviour is not subject to identification or to being sanctioned. Just as with a stampeding herd of impala being chased by a predator, it is anonymity and running faster than your neighbour but still staying within the mob which provides this perception of protection. It is this feeling of being protected – I think – which switches off the normal human need for risk assessment and rational judgement to be applied before actions and which shifts behaviour away from the conscious plane. Aping and “outdoing” your “neighbour” from within the mob is then prioritised over the exercise of mind and judgement.

A new study shows that what we “like” on social media clearly exhibits a “herd mentality” and depends mainly on what others before us and around us have “liked”. It seems that random “dislikes” however are compensated for.

Lev Muchnik, Sinan Aral and Sean J. Taylor, Social influence bias: a randomized experiment. Science. Vol. 341, 9 August 2013, p. 647. doi: 10.1126/science.1240466

(The paper is paywalled but there is a related discussion here  with the authors about “The effect of free access on the diffusion of scholarly ideas”)

AbstractOur society is increasingly relying on the digitized, aggregated opinions of others to make decisions. We therefore designed and analyzed a large-scale randomized experiment on a social news aggregation Web site to investigate whether knowledge of such aggregates distorts decision-making. Prior ratings created significant bias in individual rating behavior, and positive and negative social influences created asymmetric herding effects. Whereas negative social influence inspired users to correct manipulated ratings, positive social influence increased the likelihood of positive ratings by 32% and created accumulating positive herding that increased final ratings by 25% on average. This positive herding was topic-dependent and affected by whether individuals were viewing the opinions of friends or enemies. A mixture of changing opinion and greater turnout under both manipulations together with a natural tendency to up-vote on the site combined to create the herding effects. Such findings will help interpret collective judgment accurately and avoid social influence bias in collective intelligence in the future.

ScienceNews writes:

When rating things online, people tend to follow the herd. A single random “like” can influence a comment’s score at a social news site, researchers report in the Aug. 9 Science.

Users of the site discuss news articles and rate each other’s comments with “up votes” (positive ratings) and “down votes” (negative ratings). Votes affect each comment’s overall score. To test whether previous ratings sway users, Sinan Aral of MIT and colleagues randomly assigned all comments submitted to the site over a five-month period an up vote, a down vote or no vote.

An unearned up vote packed a surprising punch. The first person to view a randomly liked comment was 32 percent more likely to rate it positively than to do the same with a comment that had received no vote. In the long run, boosted comments’ final scores were 25 percent higher than scores of untouched comments. Random negative votes did not affect a comment’s final rating because users compensated with extra up votes.

The findings may help researchers analyze herding behavior or manipulation in other kinds of rating systems, including electoral polls and stock market predictions, the authors suggest.

Twitter effectively accepts that it is a publisher and responsible for content

August 3, 2013

I have no doubt in my mind that social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are – in fact – publishers. They benefit from the advertising revenues raised on the back of their “reach” and must be responsible – and accountable – for the content they publish.

The abuse of a number of women on Twitter in the UK has now led the head of Twitter UK to personally apologise and for Twitter to now take a number of steps to prevent this kind of abuse. It is a tacit admission of responsibility for their content and completely undermines their previous stand that they are not a publisher. Even though Twitter is “requesting” its users to exercise restraint, their “commitment” makes it clear that Twitter is taking responsibility – even if only implicitly – for ensuring that their users exercise the proper restraint.

A well deserved pat on the back for Twitter (assuming they don’t back away from this commitment and later try to pin the blame on irresponsible users).

Tony Wang apology (Twitter UK)

Tony Wang apology (Twitter UK)

BBCThe boss of Twitter UK has said sorry to women who have experienced abuse on the social networking site. Tony Wang said the threats were “simply not acceptable” and pledged to do more to tackle abusive behaviour.

The apology came as Twitter updated its rules and confirmed it would introduce an in-tweet “report abuse” button on all platforms, including desktops. Police are investigating eight allegations of abuse including bomb and rape threats made against women.

Two people have been arrested in relation to Twitter rape threats against Labour MP Stella Creasy and feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, who received the threats after a campaign to have Jane Austen on the new £10 note.

Three female journalists said they were subjected to bomb threats on the site.

The revelations sparked a backlash online, with a petition calling for Twitter to add a “report abuse” button to tweets attracting more than 124,000 signatures. In a series of tweets, Twitter UK general manager Mr Wang said: 

  • “I personally apologize to the women who have experienced abuse on Twitter and for what they have gone through. The abuse they’ve received is simply not acceptable”.
  • “It’s not acceptable in the real world, and it’s not acceptable on Twitter”.
  • “There is more we can and will be doing to protect our users against abuse. That is our commitment.”

In an earlier message posted on its blog, Twitter’s senior director for trust and safety Del Harvey and Mr Wang said the company had clarified its anti-harassment policy in light of feedback from customers.

They said: “It comes down to this: people deserve to feel safe on Twitter.”

The company has clarified its guidance on abuse and spam – reiterating that users “may not engage in targeted abuse or harassment”.

The “report abuse” button already available on the iOS Twitter app and mobile site will also be rolled out to the main website and Android app from September, Twitter said.

Ms Harvey and Mr Wang wrote in their blog: “We want people to feel safe on Twitter, and we want the Twitter rules to send a clear message to anyone who thought that such behaviour was, or could ever be, acceptable.”

Facebook and Twitter are “publishers”, not merely “couriers”

July 30, 2013

Social media like to claim that they merely provide a “platform” or  are just “communication enablers” or only provide “communication media” and therefore that they are not responsible – and should not be held responsible – for the content they disseminate.

But they protest too much.

It is quite wrong to compare Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn to a telecommunications enterprise or a postal service or a courier service or an e-mail service provider. In all of these a specific identifiable “sender” directs a communique to a specific, identified “receiver”. The carrying of the communique to the specific receiver is the service provided by the communications enterprise and is not in any sense “publishing”. The service provided by the social media is more than just the provision of a soap box in Hyde Park (a platform) or the provision of a Board or a Wall in a town square onto which a newspaper could be appended. Any website could be a platform for comments but the website owner must take ultimate responsibility for the content published on the web-site.

Facebook and Twitter disseminate their users communiques to a general audience without discriminating as to who may receive the communique. Their business models rely on this audience being as large as possible. Their advertising revenues depend upon the dissemination being as wide and as “indiscriminate” as possible. They are not so different to a radio or a TV broadcast where the broadcaster tries to reach as large an audience as possible. The broadcaster is clearly responsible and accountable for the content of the broadcast. A free newspaper being distributed at all Metro stations but where revenues are dependent upon advertising also has a responsible publisher. Any advertising revenue accrues to the publisher.

The clincher for me is that the placement of advertisements based on circulation is decisive proof of the existence of a publisher. All published material does not contain advertising. Not all advertising is proof of the existence of a publisher. A billboard or sandwich-board owner for example, is not a publisher. But the mere existence of advertising based on circulation numbers or “reach” or any similar parameter is conclusive proof – I think – of the existence of a publisher. And it is the person or organisation responsible for the circulation who takes the advertising revenues and in consequence must be the responsible and accountable publisher.

Freedom of speech does not really enter the argument. The publisher may choose to publish whatever he pleases. He may refrain from “censoring” his users if he so wishes. Or he may – at some cost – ensure that the content he publishes meets criteria that he sets himself. But he remains responsible and accountable for what he publishes. Facebook and Twitter cannot abdicate their responsibility because they choose not to exercise the quality control they could.

It seems to me to be self-evident that Facebook and Twitter are not “billboards” or “sandwich-boards” but are full fledged “broadcasters”. And a broadcaster is a publisher. They could take responsibility for the content they disseminate if they wanted to. It just costs. They can be held accountable for what they indubitably do publish – and they should.


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