Larry Magid: Social media risks and solutions can be nuanced

One of my favorite phrases is “it’s complicated,” because it expresses the fact that many things in life are not as simple as they seem.

Larry Magid (Gary Reyes / Mercury News)

That’s especially true when you need to make an important decision. Should you buy or lease your next car – there are advantages and disadvantages to both options. Should a doctor prescribe a particular medicine, having to weigh the benefits against the risks and possible side effects. The list of nuanced decisions is long, ranging from what you should have for dinner to whether to have an operation that could cure you or kill you.

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In addition to nuances, there are what I call competing rights. Policymakers and courts are constantly having to make decisions often despite disagreements among each other and their constituencies. Most decisions are binary – yes or no, candidate one vs candidate two, guilty or not-guilty, etc. And, though there may be pros and cons that decisionmakers should consider, there are often advocates on both sides who are convinced that their position is the only one that makes sense. That’s one of the reasons we have a Supreme Court to, rightly or wrongly, decide on issues that often deeply divide us as a nation.

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Nuances and competing rights in social media

Content moderation on social media platforms is one area where nuances and competing rights play a big role. Almost all social media companies say they want to encourage free speech, yet most have community standards or terms of service that limit speech that they deem harmful. There are people pressuring Facebook and Twitter to take down all sorts of speech that they consider to be demeaning, defaming, vulgar, dangerous, misleading or hateful. But when these companies delete such posts or suspend those who repeatedly post them, they are accused of censorship.

Years ago, social media companies had to struggle over the question of whether to allow beheading videos or videos of animal abuse. At first glance the obvious answer was no. But there were human rights and animal rights advocates who said the videos should remain, to promote public outrage over horrific crimes. In most cases the eventual decision was to remove these videos, but there was legitimate debate by well-meaning people with differing points of view.

There’s a lot of debate over the suspension of Donald Trump after the January 6th insurrection.  Facebook suspended Trump for at least two years and Twitter suspended him permanently for posting statements that they …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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