Truth is no longer what facts dictate. Truth is what social media empires dictate it is.
All mainstream media have said Joe Biden is the winner of the US election, so almost everyone believes that it is true.
Social media giants such as Google, Facebook and Twitter have, for a long time, banned information that is not to the liking of their owners; the purveyors of ‘truth’.
Just as decades ago, now deceased newspapers and cable news networks decided what was printed and what was broadcast, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Google now decide what is viewed on their platforms and what is not.
Dissent is punished, not encouraged. Discussion is banned, not enabled, and facts are ignored, not elevated.
Two of the most recent examples are Facebook and Twitter’s decision to ban “false information” about vaccines and “hate speech”.
Unsurprisingly, they -Facebook and Twitter- are the deciders when it comes to allowing speech on their platforms.
While Twitter says that the network will prohibit discriminatory messages based on age, disability and illness and also based on race, ethnicity and nationality, Facebook says it is updating its policy against “fake news” to fight against conspiracy theories related to the coronavirus.
Twitter is once again expanding its policies to control and curb messages that supposedly incite hatred. The company has updated its rules to “prohibit language that dehumanizes people on the basis of race, ethnicity, or national origin.”
This change comes more than two years after Twitter announced its intention to ban dehumanizing language, and more than six months since the last change to the policy, which banned hate speech related to age, disability, and illness.
Twitter will require users to remove tweets that use dehumanizing language based on their race, ethnicity, or national origin.
The company will monitor user-reported tweets and use automation technology to “proactively” detect potential violations of its policy. The network has announced these changes on its blog.
In a text, they assure that there are investigations that link dehumanizing language with offline violence, so they want to help stop it on their platform.
Twitter has also put some examples of the messages that will be subject to the new rules. A basic example would be a phrase similar to this: “All (nationality) are cockroaches that take advantage of public funds and should be expelled.”
Before Twitter, other platforms such as Facebook had already incorporated this type of control norms to curb incitement to hatred.
The company first announced that it would address dehumanizing language in September 2018, following a backlash that did not want to ban inflammatory messages from journalist Alex Jones. Jones was later de-platformed.
Since then, the company has made just three updates to the rules, including in 2019 when it banned dehumanizing language directed at religious groups.
Twitter apologizes assuring that they have wanted to do things well. The company notes that it works with outside groups and receives public comment before implementing changes to “broaden our understanding of cultural nuances and ensure that we can consistently enforce our rules.”
Facebook piles on censorship
At a time when vaccines about Covid-19 are on everyone’s lips, social networks are considering how to censor the public debate on this issue.
Facebook has already decided that it will remove so-called false claims about coronavirus vaccines that are posted on its platform. This was announced Thursday, a month after YouTube took a similar initiative.
The social network will remove what it calls “false claims” about Covid-19 vaccines that have been discredited by “public health experts”. The move expands Facebook’s current censorship rules against free speech about the pandemic.
As they explain, they will eliminate “misinformation” about the coronavirus that presents an “imminent” risk of harm, while labeling and reducing the spread and scope of other “false claims that are misleading”.
This policy change on Facebook comes in response to the news that Covid-19 vaccines will soon be launched around the world.
Two pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have already requested authorization from the US authorities for the emergency use of their vaccines.
For its part, Britain approved the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday, ahead of the rest of the world in the race to start the mass vaccination program.
Information about new coronavirus vaccines has proliferated on social media during the pandemic, including anti-vaccine posts that have been shared across multiple platforms and by different ideological groups.
A November report by the nonprofit First Draft found that 84 percent of interactions generated by vaccine-related content came from Facebook and Instagram pages.
That’s why the company will remove what it calls “discredited Covid-19 vaccine conspiracies”, such as those that claim vaccines are being tested in specific populations without their consent, and other topics about vaccines.
“This could include false claims about the safety, efficacy, ingredients, or side effects of vaccines. For example, we will remove false claims that Covid-19 vaccines contain microchips,” the company explains in a blog post.
Facebook has not specified when it would begin enforcing the updated policy, but acknowledges that it will not be something that will happen “overnight.”