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Big Tech censorship or government moderation? 


For the most part, it is evident that expression should not be moderated, cured and certainly not censored, but both the great communication monopoly holders and the governments coincide in wanting to “edit” what their users say on internet platforms.

The fact that some private companies have control over what happens on social networks is not good at all. But can government intervene? Should government intervene to level the table so that everyone’s speech has the same chance to be seen?

In an era where the term fake news is already part of our most common vocabulary, the way in which information flows on the Internet could have a profound influence on the future configuration of society.

Leaving the decision of what flows and what doesn’t in the hands of technological giants does not seem to be the most commendable choice, but surely we would not have been very calm if it were solely in the hands of governments.

CNN has recently reported some details contained in an executive order draft about how the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, would have a direct say on what is published on social media by supervising how tech giants moderate content on their platforms.

By this measure, the Trump Administration intends to ensure that both liberals and  conservatives are able to freely opine about any issue on Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks.

Last week, the American president twitted several times to accuse Google of meddling in search results and said that he would be watching over closely.”

As we reported previously, according to the US Senate Judiciary Committee, “Google Poses a Serious Threat to Democracy”. The Senate’s Judiciary Committee report conveys the facts presented by Robert Epstein, a former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today and a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology. In his testimony, Epstein accused Google of swinging at least 2.6 million votes for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

“I believe the threats posed by Google and to a lesser extent Facebook are so serious that everyone needs to know about them. Here are just three disturbing findings from my research, which adheres to the very highest standards of scientific integrity. Number one, in 2016 Google’s search algorithm likely impacted undecided voters in a way that shifted at least 2.6 million votes to Hillary Clinton, whom I supported,” clarified Epstein.

Google’s full testimony can be watched below:

It is important to note that the executive order, which intends to “protect Americans from censorship online, was at an early stage and could change significantly before being approved.

In order to be able to take part in the supervision of moderation that digital companies perform, it will be necessary for the FCC to change the interpretation of existing law. According to this law, Internet companies are not legally responsible for the content that is published by a third party.

Let us turn to one example to understand it best: If someone publishes a false criticism of a product or service on social media, the service provider may sue the reviewer, but not the social media platform.

In addition, this section disclaims responsibility to the companies themselves if they contain content that is considered violent or obscene.

On these terms, Facebook, Youtube and other companies reserve the right to decide what content is published on their platforms.

In 2018, the USA approved a draft bill that brought with it an exception to this section, which added responsibility to the platforms that contained third parties made content that promoted sex trafficking.

The executive order in which the White House is working now would increase the assumptions of responsibility of social networks in the midst of the debate about the liberty that these platforms have to censor content posted by their users.

According to Epstein, the US Congress has the tools to curb Google’s Search Engine manipulation process, seemingly without having to take control of what can be published by users and what cannot be published.

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About the author: Luis R. Miranda

Luis R. Miranda is an award-winning journalist and the founder & editor of The Real Agenda News. His career spans over 23 years in every form of news media. He writes about environmentalism, education, technology, science, health, immigration and other current affairs. Luis has worked as on-air talent, news reporter, television producer, and news writer.

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