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Should social media platforms get better regulated?

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Social media is in the headlines, and mostly not for positive reasons. Groups and individuals communicate their messages of hate and ignorance. Anonymous trolls bully users. People are kept inside their "information bubbles". Data leaks occur. Bots multiply political messages.

As consequence the number of active users decline, especially Generation Z is not much on Facebook, but prefers closed groups similar to WhatsApp.

What can the big companies, but also governments learn out of this? What actions have to be taken? Should social media platforms regulated, have we to enhance our education?

Social Media
Information Technology
Psychology
Patrick Henz
6 months ago

8 answers

3

No. Regulation kills the soul of creativity. And history tells us that regulation never works. Who'll regulate social media - government or agencies or companies? In every case, you are not going to get what it is meant for. 
So, in my opinion - No regulation. 
Meanwhile, I agree that one of the biggest problem of social media is Fake News. I think smart technologies such as AI/ML should be used ( or invest towards to make it more mature) to detect such hoax. 

Hitesh Mathpal
6 months ago
Hitesh Mathpal , thanks for your answer! Do you think Facebook (or other social media platforms) should be legally responsible to keep out fake news? - Patrick 6 months ago
Agree with Hitesh. - Masarrat A 6 months ago
I don't think they should be "Legaly" responsible. I mean you can't hang them if there is any fake news. However they should be responsible for the content. Like google - there are a lot of fake websites but google shows them in result. These platforms are just aggregator. - Hitesh 6 months ago
Hitesh Mathpal , if I am correct, due to terms & conditions, FB receives the copyright of the uploaded content. This may include a legal responsibility. - Patrick 6 months ago
Patrick Henz Agree. They have your content for marketing - why not for social responsibilty ? - Maya 6 months ago
I agree wtih liability for fake news that could have been identified with simple research. Limiting speech, however, is a slippery slope. For instance, Google already "regulates" by including only content they agree with. The regulator cannot be trusted, hence regulation is not effective. - Megan 6 months ago
Megan Hamilton , good point! It is important to get diverse ideas and not stay inside your own information bubble. It is important that internal algorithm not try to keep users inside the bubble. - Patrick 6 months ago
Maya Kharkwal MA, BEd , agreed! - Patrick 6 months ago
2

I always say Social Media has done more harm than do any good for the Society. Take any Social Media Platform, any chat mechanism or any App like Dating apps. People have become so racist and illogical that it has affected the human mind, people have committed suicide because of this new virtual bullying mechanism. Earlier when we were not having these platforms, it used to happen in Schools and Colleges.
I am sure you must have seen Netflix series "13 reasons why", what are they trying to tell people, stop social media abuse and destruction. I will say live and let me live, however people knowing that my data is going public, my opinion are getting bias answers, they still push themselves to this abuse. One thing we have come to is, making ourselves feel good at these virtual platforms, we try to be someone else, we portray different image of our personality as to what we are, and people who portray honest opinion. honest themselves are bullied and taken off.
Yes, regulations will do nothing, as Hitesh Mathpal metioned some penalties etc. nothing more than that for these companies. But the real question comes how people are going to find the solution. What they want, where they feel comfortable. FB, recently said that, yes we have not good image in public because of Security concerns. So, when Company is accepting their fault should people continue using it or saying no more.
Finally, it is upto indivdiual choice, ownership lies with public, they need to decide where to draw a line.

Masarrat A Shah
6 months ago
True. Agree. Censorship is an institution that always fails. - Hitesh 6 months ago
Masarrat A Shah , thanks a lot for your answer! Agreed, humans have to take more intelligent decisions. A positive trend comes from Generation Z, who sees FB as an "ancient platform" and prefer closed groups, including multiplayer games. - Patrick 6 months ago
One of the things I find positive about FB is the inclusion of ideas I fully disagree with. Friends post ideas and quotes that are the oposite politial view than I hold. It's good to see where they're coming from and gives me the opporutnity to pat myself on the back for not being as extreme as they are. Honestly, both sides are a bit much, but I like to see their views. - Megan 6 months ago
2

I understand the concerns about regulate social media, however as long as users can't limit themselves and keep uploading everything with no control, yes social should be regulated.
The idea behind social is great, unfortunately, scams, counterfeit, money laundering, terrorism, drugs and bullying are infesting this channel now.

Paolo Beffagnotti
6 months ago
Paolo Beffagnotti , a good point. We have to teach people, to protect them against themselves. - Patrick 6 months ago
the good thing of the web is that is free and you can say anything, the b side is that you have a limited protection. The more you share the more you are popular and the more you will take risks. - Paolo 6 months ago
Agree, - Hitesh 6 months ago
2

Social Media platforms should have labeling similar to what has been done in other industries (aka the food industry) to make it easy for users to know what is happening with their data. A user should get a weekly report that explains how their data has been used with a link to the associated privacy settings.

Clear labeling is not going to squash creativity and it will protect the consumer.

Margaret Mitchell
6 months ago
Margaret Mitchell thanks! A good point. A label would be important especially for children-friendly platforms. Example a platform like Lego's. https://www.wired.com/2017/01/lego-life-social-network-kids/ - Patrick 6 months ago
2

There are different ways of regulating things. The big problem with social media, primarily facebook, is that there is no transparency. For the most part the web has more transparency to anything it touches -- price discovery, product information, politics and so on. But with social media there is this dark under belly that outsiders don't get to see. Fake profiles, fake news, data collection, algorithms controlling "random" connections are all very dangerous things. Maybe government regulation is not the answer yet. The industry could and should put together some kind of standards for ethical practice and self govern themselves. If I am buying airline tickets and I find a great price I know whether it is real or not as soon as I try to buy it. It is a closed loop system. But on a social media platform fake news, political arguments with alias identities has no "purchase" option to close the loop. It just becomes an unending series of unreal experiences orchestrated by big data manipulation. I think we are all better off if we can see behind the curtain and close the loop.

Anthony Jaccarino
6 months ago
Anthony Jaccarino thanks for the answer! Due to my experience, self governance of the industry in many cases not worked out, so just delayed potential regulation. So the platform would bot be regulated, but Facebook as company. - Patrick 6 months ago
Patrick Henz It may not work perfectly but it is an important step. Many industries have associations and standards of best practice. This won't solve everything but it at least communicates a message of willingness to look at the business model. There is not a lot of precedent for businesses where the "free users" are actually the product. It's complex problem. - Anthony 6 months ago
Anthony Jaccarino , if there are external associations, these have to be fostered and give rights, like to audit its member organizations. - Patrick 6 months ago
1

I must confess that this problem, in other forms, has existed since we were in elementary school: bullies, name-calling, etc. Intervention of adults in authority did not end such behavior, but rather forced it to move off campus where it still took its emotional and physical toll. The only way to change this is to change the human - a rather nasty trait that about 2 million years of evolution has failed to correct.

Regulation of this most public social media will likely do little to truly change things because the humans that use it have little to challenge them: anonymous attacks are the easiest. The social media fosters immediate and free self-expression to which the "Mr. Hyde" seems to emerge in some, while "Dr. Jekyll" remains in competent control in others (the majority of other, fortunately). The current generation of users also have some extraordinarily awful examples of courtesy, mutual respect and self-restraint blazing trails for them. No names mentioned here, but....

Getting into such modalities and expressing oneself gets into a lot of very tricky legal switchbacks: since when did insulting another person become a crime? Well, in the US, verbal assault is still assault, and thus a chargeable offense. Threatening to "go pound someone" was heard on school playgrounds for decades, and sometimes happened. Now that adults do the same things through social media - the same adults who never developed adequate coping skills - it has become a crime. Again. One sometimes that uses assault rifles instead of bare knuckles.

For those who seek an outlet for such vehemence and anger, social media is a natural conduit. Regulation, which will either be foisted onto the commercial companies to enforce (already a failed strategy), or placed into the hands of DHS (not really their thing) or the FCC (which is proving ineffectual and misguided at most everything it attempts these days) will only force them to find another outlet - simply relocating the problem, not solving or stopping it.

While I abhor utterly the negative manner in which some use these vehicles, and with equal disgust discount the empty promises and efforts of FaceBook and its co-travelers, I cannot accept that regulation will do much more than place responsibilities and penalties (with abundant escape clauses) on the shoulders of those least suited to enforce: the social media companies themselves. Banning them is equally no answer, and is actually far worse in economic and employment impact. To say nothing of impingement of certain "inalienable rights".

In short: no good solution. Only ineffective to very bad ones, IMHO.

Ross A. Leo
6 months ago
Ross A. Leo , thanks a lot for the detailed answer! I agree that speech should not be regulated. But what about other aspects, like banning bots.or the aspect that employees in low-cost countries in Asia have to review violent videos, as AI is not capable for this so far? https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/05/03/facebook-to-add-thousands-of-workers-to-review-violent-posts-and-other-offensive-content/ - Patrick 6 months ago
I do think that banning mechanisms like those could be explored and should be. That would certainly easier than banning "speech". Having any employees review content for violence is incredibly debilitating to them; very unhealthy, and is ultimately ineffective as well. - Ross A. 6 months ago
Ross A. Leo , agreed, just lately I heard a report about the people who have to see all these videos and tag them correctly. Most of them suffer psychologically because of these tasks. - Patrick 6 months ago
I believe that this sort of outsourcing is the worst kind based on what it does to the outsource party. It ignores the quite obvious impact of the work on the worker (being "over there", is "somebody else's problem"), a practice I find abhorrent and inhumane. I wish I could say I thought American and other businesses would not do this, but I am doomed to disappointment on that point. - Ross A. 6 months ago
1

Absolutely not, this isn't China - they may own half, and we may owe them the other half in debt... but we still aren't theirs.

Regulation is the ban of existence, freedom, and growth as a species;

Who gets to set the rules? Whoever is in power this week.

Would the Democrats LOVE to censor everyone that doesn't agree with their world view? Sure they would

Would the Republicans LOVE to censor everyone that doesn't agree with their world view? Sure they would

Would the Liberals LOVE to censor everyone that doesn't agree with their world view? Sure they would

Would the Southern Bell Daughters Association LOVE to censor everyone that doesn't agree with their world view? Sure they would

Where does it end? Do we have no choice but to relive the already learned but apparently forgotten lessons that created this nation?

Getting bullied on line - BULLY BACK --> it is NO different from getting bullied on the school yard.
They tried to bully me, I hit them with anything I could get my hands on. They sought weaker pray
Should the school have done more - yes. Did they? no

Trolls on the system? Really - you don't know how to use the BLOCK function? Use your own judgement to say that it's a troll and to ignore.

the problem isn't Social Media.

The problem is that we sent our kids off to be raised by others, then throttled others when they sought to make your BRAT mind. Others decided SCREW IT, they can run around the backyard and do WHATEVER.

We sought the bigger house, the bigger car, the jet skies, the CRAP WE DON'T NEED - and left the kids to raise themselves.

We gave them 10 minutes of rush to work in the morning to drop them off in their day jail, and ten minutes at night because we have to log BACK IN to finish that presentation for the "important" meeting in the morning.

I watched my friends as they did this throughout the last 20 years, as they told me I was foolish as my wife stayed home to raise the kids.

I win.

George Haney III MPM, PMP, CSM
6 months ago
George Haney III MPM, PMP, CSM , thanks a lot for the detailed answer! Agreed that education is responsibility of the parents. The problem is if parents not take this responsibility, the result is a problem of society. Nevertheless, the question, you would do something different for social media? In general, we see that the tendency is going away from FB, Gen Z prefers closed groups like WhatsApp. - Patrick 6 months ago
1

I think social media should be regulated - however kind of regulation can be argued. They should have some sort of responsibility, otherwise, everything is a plain business.
If complete monitoring is not possible, at least some sort of review should be done.

Maya Kharkwal MA, BEd
6 months ago
I agree with putting some ethical standard/penalty formula in place may be appropriate. Regarding regulation, the problem with this issue is that it is rather emotional and personal in nature, which historically produces terrible law. Ambiguous laws are nearly always worse than no law, and that I fear would be the product of any legislative process in this case. - Ross A. 6 months ago
Maya Kharkwal MA, BEd , thanks for the feedback! Social media platforms are unfortunately always for business. It would be great to have a platform from a non-profit-organization, but due to the market power, such a project would be very different to establish on the market. - Patrick 6 months ago

Have some input?