back to article US state AGs: How can Facebook, Google, Twitter say they tackle misinformation when *gestures wildly at COVID-19 BS everywhere*

In testimonies from the CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter to Congress, published on Wednesday ahead of a hearing this week on internet disinformation, the trio revealed their efforts to remove misinformation from their platforms. “People want to see accurate information on Facebook, and so do we,” Mark Zuckerberg wrote. “ …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ban social media.

    Shut them down, wipe all their servers & backups, retrain all their employees to be level 1 help desk, and make sure to turn their websites into portals for online addiction counceling.

    1. A. Coatsworth
      Pint

      Re: Ban social media.

      >> Shut them down, wipe all their servers & backups, retrain all their employees to be level 1 help desk

      Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl;

      pound them up with a thumping pole;

      an when you're finished, if there are any whole,

      send them down the hall to roll!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Party will decide what is true, and see to it that the proles see and hear no other.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The Party will decide what is true

      Are you Scottish?

  3. Bitsminer Bronze badge

    Motion is not delivery

    Fakebook: "fighting misinformation"

    Goggle: "[we]...have worked..."

    Goggle: "We've launched...new products..."

    Twatter: "we have...policies...along with information..."

    In other words, all action, and yet, no achievements.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Motion is not delivery

      Given that Facebook's moderation policy okay's calling for the death of public figures, they've got a long way to go yet.

      Every time there's one of these enquiries, Google/Facebook/Twitter/the rest are all like a child that's proudly holding up a poo from their own potty when mummy walks in. Mummy's not amused.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Motion is not delivery

        "Every time there's one of these enquiries, Google/Facebook/Twitter/the rest are all like a child that's proudly holding up a poo from their own potty when mummy walks in. Mummy's not amused."

        LOL -------------> See icon!!

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: In other words, all action, and yet, no achievements.

      Isn't this better described as

      All mouth and trousers.

      Google, Facebook and Twitter need to eat this [see icon] They and their users are the scum of the earth.

  4. RM Myers Silver badge
    Joke

    As those wiser than me have said

    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits".

  5. ST Silver badge

    Intractable problem it seems

    Because of the business model based on pushing ads.

    The more BS posts about COVID vaccines - the more clicks - the more ads pushed. $$$$$.

    So, let's try removing the monetary incentive.[*]

    A policy prohibiting ads on posts of "public interest". I.e. if someone wants to publish something about COVID and vaccines, no ads can be shown on that page/post/tweet. Maybe that would whip Twatterface into action. Those no-ads posts amount to a real estate loss -- if no ads can be shown, no $$$$$. That's an incentive to remove all the BS posts, which outnumber the legit ones.

    -----

    [*] MWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!! In the US? Are you nuts?

  6. Potemkine! Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Misinformation is a big, big problem. Manipulating people with false informations lead nowadays to many avoidable deaths.

    However, I'm not convinced censorship is the best option to fight this. First, because Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?. Next, because it reinforces conspiracy theories. Finally, because there's no proof it is efficient.

    Science does not prove something is true. However, it can demonstrates that something is false. A scientific affirmation may be infirmed later, something debunked not (unless you're one of those wackos believing Earth is flat).

    So instead of removing those posts, videos, message propagating false information, maybe would it be more efficient to add a flag on front of it saying "this as been proved wrong, follow this link to see the proof". Maybe.

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge
      Trollface

      The way to avoid 'Idiocracy'!

      "Misinformation is a big, big problem. Manipulating people with false informations lead nowadays to many avoidable deaths."

      Don't you see that we actually should be encouraging this? It would help slow the exponential growth of the human population, and it would also help in increasing the average intelligence of that population.

      If humanity is to survive we need to stop out-populating the environment that we live in. And having those dumb enough to remove themselves from the population do just that will help.

      The Darwin Awards were just the start. The should be expanded and translated into every language.

      .

      Am I serious? Or -------------->

      1. A K Stiles
        Alert

        Re: The way to avoid 'Idiocracy'!

        Your problem there is that maybe they're also too dumb to realise (or believe) that having more kids they and the planet can't afford to support properly is a problem, which just increases the number of poorly-educated people with no critical thinking skills having ever more kids.

    2. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

      The problem is this kind of thinking sows the seeds of totalitarianism! Free speech means you can say what every you like and people are free to believe your are an idiot! The "fire in a theater" analogy does not hold here because telling people vaccines are dangerous or that the election was stolen does not cause hundreds of people to run for the exists and trample each other!

      If a Facebook post cause someone to not get a COVID vaccine then that is "their" fault! It is not the nanny state nor the nanny tech companies responsibility to "protect the stupid!"

      And yet, with that said, the continued false narratives pushed out by the media and politicians are not at all subjected to this scrutiny!

      False narratives like: White men are attacking Asians!

      Fact: The majority of attacks on Asians over the last year in the US were committed by Black men!

      You did not see Facebook, Twitter, Google, et. all take these down!

      When this type of selective censorship is directed at particular subjects and particular political ideologies then it definitely becomes totalitarian.

  7. Dinanziame Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    First amendment?

    I'm aware that private companies can choose whatever they want to accept on their platforms, I've read the <a href="https://xkcd.com/1357/>relevant XKCD</a>, and I have no problem with it. The right to free speech only protects you from the government, and all that... But isn't it weird to have <b> Attorneys General</b>, who are definitely part of the government, pressing private companies to limit what people can say on their platforms?

    It feels weird to have the government saying "something is wrong about the world, and tech companies should do something about it."

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: First amendment?

      In other parts of the world, the right to life is the most important human right; and where freedom of speech adversely impacts on that right, then freedom of speech has to step aside.

      Rights are never absolute, there is always a balancing act between different competing rights.

      1. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

        Re: First amendment?

        That does not hold here. Nothing anyone posts on Social Media puts anyone in imminent danger!

        The "Yelling fire in a theater!" argument is moot. Reading something on social media isn't going to cause 100s of people to go running out into traffic!

        Free speech means you can say, write, post, etc what ever your opinion is. Others have the right to believe your an idiot! If 10,000 people believe your right and either do not do something, or vote a particular way that is their business.

        Post that threaten individuals, promote "real" not "imagined" violence, advocate illegal activity yes they can be removed but this "misinformation" narrative is just a tool of the oppressor!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: First amendment?

          The "Yelling fire in a theater!" argument is moot. Reading something on social media isn't going to cause 100s of people to go running out into traffic!

          But it did bring thousands into DC on Jan 6th, where hundreds tried to start the fire in the theater.

        2. David Nash

          Re: First amendment?

          AntiVax is analogous to the shouting Fire thing though, because the more people there are in a society that are not vaccinated, the more danger other members of that society are put in.

          It doesn't only endanger those who are not vaccinated but also allows mutations and variants to more easily develop and endanger those who have been vaccinated.

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: First amendment?

          "Reading something on social media isn't going to cause 100s of people to go running out into traffic!"

          Just wait until the first person is killed by running out into traffic when the new meme/game is all over social media telling people how much fun it is to cause self-driving cars to stop. Except, of course, they won't all be self-driving cars, or the AI will, as we expect, be imperfect.

  8. Screwed

    It's all very well going on about misinformation. There are many reasons people post misinformation. Some of them could be, in themselves, innocent even if the effects are anything but.

    What about disinformation? And the motivations behind spreading disinformation.

    1. Roger Kynaston Silver badge
      Joke

      Don't you dare

      Diss my misinformation

  9. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid

    Make them jointly liable for content

    Maybe we should make Facebook, Twitter, Google etc. legallly responsible for information on their services, even if posted by a third party. Let's face it, the social media companies are willingly hosting that content as part of their business models. As it is now, they don't seem to have any legal liability or responsibility for the consequences of content they host.

    It's like if I gave a bank robber a lift to the bank in full knowledge of what they are planning, I'd expect to be in trouble for facilitating the act. Facebook etc. can all read the content like anyone else can so they cannot and should not claim ignorance.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Make them jointly liable for content

      Then it wouldn't be possible to post any information - somebody somewhere would sue over it.

      The only place you would then be able to get true reliable information would be from the President's press briefings. Perhaps these could be published in an official newspaper call Truth or something?

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Make them jointly liable for content

        Not when the President of France is actively spreading vaccine misinformation.

        Also, the USA used to have an orange-coloured "gentleman" in the White House who promoted bleach as a cure for coronavirus. The Genesis II Church of Health were also actively promoting it.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Make them jointly liable for content

          >Not when the President of France is actively spreading vaccine misinformation.

          >the USA used to have an orange-coloured "gentleman" in the White House

          And both these administrations would be in charge of prosecuting Facebook et.al.

          - so what would they have to publish to stay on the right side of the law ?

  10. anothercynic Silver badge

    Don't trust them

    Zuckerbro keeps harping on about how he wants x, y, and z, but the actions of his organisation speak volumes.

    Read https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/03/11/1020600/facebook-responsible-ai-misinformation/ to see what I mean.

    Don't trust Facebook. Twitter I'm slightly (by a smidgen) more inclined to trust, but not much. And Google? Well...

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Don't trust them

      You put trust in Twitter ?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Don't trust them

        All these posts are written by people - people lie - don't trust people !

        Only Magic 8 ball (and amanfromMars) speak the truth

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Don't trust them

        The corporation, yes, not the sewer they preside over ;-)

        At least the corporation tends to occasionally boot the right people, and they have a process that has humans at the end of it, as opposed to Google, which doesn't appear to have any humans working for them (Pichai is a bot, don'tchaknow *winknudge*).

  11. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

    The citizens of Utopia must be protected from all forms of dissenting information!

  12. Spasticus Autisticus
    Devil

    Quality

    'Google’s Sundar Pichai explained the same: “This past year we’ve also focused on providing quality information during the pandemic.'

    The word quality without a quantifier is meaningless. If something really is top/high/good quality the quantifying word will be used. If I see 'quality' on its own I then put the required quantifying word, low/poor/rubbish, in myself.

  13. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    The action

    needed is very very simple.

    Its to put a large disclaimer at the top of each farcebork page saying "The information you read on here will not be reliable"... then ban governments from using farcebork et al to run stories for them.

    Too simple for you... maybe we need new laws....(to be ignored by all)

    Anyways.... I'm off to get some blue healing crystals for my broken leg, and a 1 to 7 homepathic remedy for those chest pains I've been having.... it must work.. someone on farcebork told me...

  14. Tron

    Time for tech to evolve.

    The current model for ad-funded Web 2.0 is been broken by politicians, who will demand that GAFA become censors of all Web 2.0 content, on their behalf.

    This is despite anti-vaxxers not being a major problem (most people who can get the jab, will) and Russian election comments being little more than a layer of froth on top of the heaving mass of lies and prejudice of domestic origin that circulate during US elections.

    And good science, like a healthy democracy, needs dissenters. What if dissent about DDT and Thalidomide had been banned?

    In truth, harvesting user data to direct adverts was a lousy model. In two decades I haven't seen an improvement in the relevance of adverts served to me, nor clicked on one of them. Harvesting/'AI' does not add the value it is claimed.

    There is a plan B. Social media and Web 2.0 services can switch to a partially or completely distributed topology. Data moves between users, encrypted. It can be indexed and managed by the service provider, but they do not know what users are posting. And so they cannot censor it or harvest it.

    In return, users create their own ad profile or 'adfile', and permit the service provider to use it to direct adverts to them according to their volunteered interests and lifestyle aspirations. Because relevant adverts are slightly less annoying than irrelevant ones.

    Users then get to implement third-party censor shields, if they desire, that block specific content from appearing on their screens. This is voluntary. Users can pick the censor shield that is just right for them.

    Blockchain was a fairly limited distributed technology. It was just the tip of the iceberg. Anything can be distributed to a greater or lesser extent. It is the next evolution of tech. GAFA can transition to a distributed topology, or they can be replaced by new distributed services from Japan, India or Europe.

    If US politicians take down the dominant players, and the next generation of those services are not American, they will have nobody to blame but themselves.

    The move to distributed technology is a real opportunity for a tech reboot, lifting the global economy. There is no need for new infrastructure or hardware, and anyone can play. You can start coding the future tomorrow if you wish.

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