Facebook and Twitter

Collage designed by Olivia Rasmussen through the use of Creative Commons photos.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey were questioned during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week about alleged conservative censorship on their platforms, transparency of the platforms and how the tech giants are handling content pertaining to the election on their platforms, which all boils down to one major element: the truth.

There was a statement that stood out to me during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that relates directly to the truth and personally perceived truth. Sen. John Kennedy, unsure if he subscribes to this way of thinking, said during the hearing, “What if your companies had a rule that said, ‘People aren’t morons … I can read what I want to read and exercise my good judgement and choose to believe it.’ Here’s the rule we’re adopting: if you go on Twitter or Facebook, you can’t bully people, you can’t threaten people … You can’t commit a crime with your words and you can’t incite violence. But other than that, you can print any damn thing you want to, and we’ll let our users judge.”

Facebook and Twitter already work in this way but utilize third-party fact checkers to give users the option to know when what they’re reading has been flagged as false or misleading. What about providing people with the option to know what’s been fact-checked and what’s been proven fake or misleading is unconstitutional? This really shouldn’t be a partisan issue because independent fact checkers are in place to help all of us. And if someone doesn’t trust the fact checkers that are being used, they have the complete ability to research the truth for themselves.

Additionally on Kennedy’s statement, I don’t think people are morons, but it’s obvious how easily persuaded the masses are, especially through social media; therefore, it feels concerning to grant people the full ability to share misinformation without any kind of content warning about the material. This isn’t the same as “censoring” as this would only provide readers the knowledge if there’s factual evidence behind what is being posted or not.

The Associated Press previously discussed who is at the center of sharing fake information, specifically surrounding the 2016 election. The article, citing a research study, says “people over 65 and ultra conservatives shared about seven times more fake information masquerading as news on [Facebook] than younger adults, moderates and super liberals.”

“We can disagree, but when we have fundamentally different views about what information is true and what is not, democracy becomes very difficult to maintain,” said Tobias Hopp, assistant professor of advertising, public relations and media design at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Hopp published a journal titled “Why Do People Share Ideologically Extreme, False, and Misleading Content on Social Media? A Self-Report and Trace Data – Based Analysis of Countermedia Content Dissemination on Facebook and Twitter.” The research says, “studies on fake news have generally shown that those self-identifying as very conservative share the most fake news,” but the study also mentions that while not as often as ultra conservatives, people on the left have fallen into sharing misleading articles and posts too.

It’s interesting to see both Democratic and Republican senators agree across the board that some type of content moderation needs to be in place for content like Kennedy suggested as well as child exploitation and terrorism, including white supremacist groups and militias, but when Facebook and Twitter do exactly that, certain conservatives are then alleging they’re being censored.

The conservative senators who are making these baseless allegations of biased censorship against them can’t in the same hand promote violence, bullying, white supremacy, domestic terrorism and then some while also expecting social media platforms to have policies in place to prevent exactly what they’re posting. That’s why those posts are being “censored” — because they’re breaking the policies that some Senate Republicans are hypocritically saying they’re OK with.

Before comments flood in about how Donald Trump is being subjected to “censorship,” you must realize it’s because he’s posting complete lies. On Nov. 16, Trump tweeted again that he won the election, even though the election was called for Joe Biden weeks ago. Twitter didn’t “censor” him for this but rather put a small warning underneath that reads, “multiple sources called this election differently.”

It’s alarming if people aren’t actively seeking what’s true — and by that, I mean complete objective truth that is not coated in bias and partisanship. Of course, one should still be allowed to voice their opinions on the matter; that was never in question, but that’s different than sharing and spreading misinformation like it's truth.

In summation, I think this comes down to personal responsibility and accountability. If someone is not ensuring that what they’re reading and sharing is true, then they might reap the consequences of sharing false news like the platform flagging the post or removing content that violates the guidelines that those of us on social media all accept and agree to.

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Olivia Rasmussen is a senior in public relations. 

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(5) comments

Facts and Logic

While you stated in your article that you don't think people are morons, it is pretty clear that you do believe this. The problem is that once you begin restricting speech, it is a very slippery slope. Will sites like the Onion and the Babylon Bee be restricted? What about hyperbole, sarcasm, or even memes? The point is this: the only 'fair and unbiased' way to limit speech is NOT to limit it at all.

As a side note, you clearly believe that fact checkers are the way to fix misinformation. In theory, this idea has merit. However, what if a fact checking organization decides to skew one way? They then have the power to declare ANYTHING they don't like as false or misleading. By trusting fact checkers, you have put the power of dissemination of information into the hands of specific organizations. What is to stop them from having an agenda? And this concern isn't far-fetched, either - it is happening in real time. There is a very good reason conservatives are supposedly promoting more false information - the left-wing fact-checkers are the ones declaring said information is false and then marking it as such. As stated previously, the answer to the potential (or reality) of skewed fact checking is to put the power of dissemination of information back where it belongs - in the hands of the people.

Milty Friedman

It’s charming and naive that you believe Facebook and Twitter operate on objective truth. They don’t. It’s pretty common for conservatives to be suspended from Facebook for posting conservative things, so much so that it’s become a joke on the right. Really, if you have not been in “Facebook jail,” you are no real conservative.

“Fact checkers” for social media sites lean left and their “fact checking” illustrates that. Just like the liberal media, including the Iowa State Daily, liberals assume that their political opinions constitute irrefutable truth, just like religious fanatics, and everyone who disagrees with them does so for evil reasons, usually because they are racist or Nazis.

It is a telling point that you want to “protect” the masses, a Marxist term, from information you, a partisan Leftist, believe to be untrue. In other words, you don’t really believe in freedom of speech nor freedom of the press, which is to say you oppose basic American values. You want to curtail them to favor your own liberal views. This is why Americans who believe in the Constitution should oppose you. The reason leftists like you want to control social media to eliminate dissent is that you cannot defend your positions honestly.

Your contempt for the American people as gullible is without merit. You can’t sell America a crap sandwich. They figure it out with the first bite. That’s why the Edsel, New Coke, and the McDonald’s Hula-Burger all failed, along with socialism. As everyone knows, you can’t fool all the people all the time.

Your claim that conservatives share more fake news than liberals is also false. Liberals peddled the Russian collusion hoax for years. Liberals peddle Sweden as a socialist utopia we should emulate when it is a democracy with a capitalist economy. Liberals peddle anthropogenic global warming as science when it has not been vetted by the scientific method.

It’s rich for a wacky leftist Daily editor to decry conservatives for promoting “violence, bullying, white supremacy, domestic terrorism and then some” when the Left supports Antifa rioting and murder and Black Lives Matter mass looting and the torching of entire business districts. The Left is engaged in a violent campaign of doxing anyone who disagrees with them, trying to get them fired. Clearly, the Left is more violent, more supremacist, more committed to intimidation.

And, really, the dopey lefty claim that America is full of white supremacists is pure nonsense. I’ve never met anyone who believed their white skin makes them superior. There are, at best, only a few thousand white supremacists in America, who are far outnumbered by black and brown supremacists in Black Lives Matter and La Raza.

Your most ridiculous claim of all is your condemnation of “people [who] aren’t actively seeking what’s true — and by that, I mean complete objective truth that is not coated in bias and partisanship.” When has the Daily ever sought the unbiased truth? The Daily is a lefty partisan propaganda sheet dedicated to indoctrinating the student body. It’s completely politically unbalanced, always pushing liberal talking points. You hire no conservative editors and disdain conservative voices. You call for personal responsibility and accountability from people you consider your political enemies, yet exercise none yourself. It is sheer hypocrisy.

We would all love for the Daily to follow your recommendation that biased articles be flagged as biased and your fake news content be removed. I suspect you would be distributing blank newsprint were you to follow the very rules you seek to impose on others with whom you disagree.

Jack Hansen

Wonder if these republican criticize Trump's lies, Republinan election lies, alt right domestic terrorism and Qanon

crazed conspiracy theories as often as they criticizes a small Iowa town university student newspaper's low hanging fruit.

Look to the right and the republican poster boy Trump for a chronic lying tsunami even about the Virus. America knows all of this which is why Trump lost no less than 5 of his previous states (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and even previously stronug republican Georgia and Arizona).

America knows all of this which is why Biden has received the most number of votes in presidential history. America knows all of this which is why Biden eventually will receive the most electoral votes in electoral college history: true hubris for lying loser Trump and for his losing supporters.

America has said to Trump and to the ideology of his supporters: "You're FIRED!"

This has been confirmed by the 30+ plus court decisions in 5 state and 5 federal courts.

The two of you are Trump collaborators - Trump who no longer be president in 45 days because of his Republican lies of which America had had voted that it has had enough.

Milty Friedman

The reason we are not talking about Trump lying nor Obama lying nor Hillary lying nor Clinton lying is that the editorial was about the Daily’s recommendation to censor the media. They are different subjects. When you answer a post about something with another thing that is entirely disconnected, it’s called a non sequitur, a logical fallacy, which a college education should teach you to avoid. This is a common mistake of liberals, who flee topics they can’t defend and hop to unrelated topics where they think they might prevail. It’s called desultory argument, where liberals hop from topic to topic. It’s the strategy of losers.

Jack Hansen

It is ironic that these two Trump supporters make reference to "logic," given 4 years of Trump's illogic, the most recent manifestations being his illogic about the Virus and his illogic about the election.

Trump is the essence of illogic as are those who support him like the 2 writers above.

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