back to article PSA: You are now in the timeline where Facebook and pals are torn a new one by, er, Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen

On Thursday, in New York City, actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen eviscerated Facebook, Google, and Twitter for facilitating the spread of hate and violence and threatening democracy. Speaking at the the Anti-Defamation League's summit on anti-Semitism and hate, Cohen decried the retreat of reason, civil discourse, and …

  1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    Facepalm

    It truly is a sad reflection on the modern world when a comedian in a mankini is speaking greater truth than out elected leaders or masters of industry. I weep for our future :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      not quite

      I suggest, for anyone who actually cares, to read this article https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20191122/00412943432/sacha-baron-cohen-is-wrong-about-social-media-wrong-about-section-230-even-wrong-about-his-own-comedy.shtml

      As for weeping for my future, ha, its not worth it.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: not quite

        You just made Paul and Cohen's point.

        1. stiine Silver badge

          Re: not quite

          No, I simply reject his conclusion, and his premise. The only person responsible for my words is me. In this particular case, The Register certainly isn't, neither are Situation Publishing, Cloudflare, Amazon, Comcast, or 42&Park. If you want Facebook, Twitter, Google, or any other website to be responsible for what you say, instead of you, then perhaps you'd best let them speak, instead of you.

          1. Stam

            Re: not quite

            I'm half of this opinion, but then I remember the internet hasn't been around for long, so what's the analogue equivalent?

            Is there any situation in which I could distribute lies or hateful messages on paper without being held accountable?

            1. Colonel Mad

              Re: not quite

              The Daily Mail?

            2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

              The analogue equivalent

              is radio. In the 20s & 30s.

              And as for a comedian speaking truth you might like to have a look at The Great Dictator.

              I'll get my tin hat and gas mask.

            3. TeeCee Gold badge

              Re: not quite

              The key there is "held accountable".

              You try getting a print published journal in a different jurisdiction to print your shit with your identity disguised.

              Also, if you are the Daily Mail or Gruaniad, you try mobilising public opinion in support of not disclosing some rabble-rousing fuck's identity when presented with a court order. For some reason[1] the web lads seem to have this sewn up.

              [1] The sad fact that "web freedom" activism is the exclusive province of blinkered, childish twats has to be top of the list.

          2. veti Silver badge

            Re: not quite

            And yet The Register, or its publisher or host, will take down your post if it's deemed to be illegal.

            Online publishing is still publishing. We know how to regulate publishers, we've been doing it for centuries. Why are we making such heavy weather of it?

            1. ArrZarr Silver badge

              Re: not quite

              A journalist for a newspaper is accountable to their editor who is in turn accountable to a chief editor who in turn is accountable to the owner who is in turn accountable to any shareholders.

              One person won't have that many direct reports and will be able to pick up on anything illegal and can temper work that's close to the line. If the entire paper is dodgy, then it has a record in Companies house which includes the directors who are accountable to the law.

              A forum has just enough moderators so that the most egregious excesses can be expunged.

              For FB, Google, Twitter etc. they have so many users that moderation looks more like tidal defense than anything else.

              Not standing on either side of the fence at this moment, just pointing out one of the main differences.

              1. PerlyKing Silver badge

                Re: moderatoin

                While I sort of agree with @ArrZarr, big social media companies not having enough moderation is a problem of their own making. Adding moderation cuts into their profits? Well boohoo. If they can't control what they've unleashed, maybe they shouldn't be allowed to do it at all.

                I used to agree with the "common carrier" defence, i.e. FB et al. just provide the medium and can't be held responsible for the content posted by their users. But seeing how that has played out has brought me around to believing that there does need to be some sort of control, either voluntary or regulatory.

                There will always be a few bad actors who will game any system for their own benefit regardless of the consequences for others and as a society we need to be able to protect the majority from these people.

                "With great power comes great responsibility".

                1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                  Re: moderatoin

                  I guess part of the reasoning behind that is our current "shareholder value" beancounter lead model of running businesses. In effect, any cost of running a business is there to be eliminated. And that includes accountability, service levels, ethics or even honesty (as long as they think that they can't get caught and made to pay for it.).

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: moderatoin

                  To my mind common carrier goes out the window as soon as the people providing the medium are also deciding who gets to see what content / adverts via targeting

          3. Avatar of They
            Thumb Down

            Re: not quite

            Did you forget to go anon the second time?

            You are responsible for your words, yes, and if you spread lies and hate then who will stop you speaking of hate and persecution? In your example, the register check posts first, they take down dodgy ones. Amazon also take down posts and reviews that contravene rules to my knowledge.

            Facebook allows people to post and make money off it. That makes them responsible, profiteering in fact if the person spreading evil, hate etc has plenty of followers. That is something they need to account for. Freedom of speech is one thing, but if it is lies (Like the Tories changing their twitter feed the other week to spread lies but doing it in an underhand way) then it needs to simply get flagged and classed that they are lies. If its breaking a law or community rule then it needs to be taken down immediately, not left for two weeks because over a million followers goes to a different Facebook department that "Decide" as demonstrated on the "behind the scenes" Channel 4 documentary earlier in the year.

            Cohen is bang on in that lies are so easy to access you can't argue with evidence when so much mis-information is there. Probably why flat earthers are on the rise, certainly why Brexit is happening.

          4. Mark 65

            Re: not quite

            @stiine Take the example of Facebook. Whilst they are not initially responsible for the views I espouse, once they promote them and use their algorithms to allow me to target them towards certain sectors of society then they do bear responsibility.

    2. Blackjack

      Eh...

      Where have you been?

      Stuff like this has been happening since at least the past century.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Eh...

        Not it mankinis it hasn't!

    3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      It truly is a sad reflection on the modern world when a comedian in a mankini is speaking greater truth than out elected leaders

      I think that's been happening since at least Roman times (OK, possibly with fewer mankinis)

      1. Irongut

        Ancient Greece would like to point out it pre-dates Roman times, invented democracy & theatre and so also comedians speaking out about political matters.

    4. Terry 6 Silver badge

      True, but he's also a highly intelligent, highly educated individual from a high achieving family. His cousin btw is one of the leading experts in the study of Autism.

  2. Brian Miller

    We used to use paper for communication

    "In every other industry, you can be sued for the harm you cause," he said. "Publishers can be sued for libel, people can be sued for defamation. ...But social media companies are largely protected from liability for the content their users post – no matter how indecent it is – by Section 230 of, get ready for it, the Communications Decency Act. Absurd!"

    Here's the thing: conventional publishing is different from social media. A newspaper has an editor, who directs managers, who direct staff to produce content. The content gets edited and approved before it goes out to world + dog.

    For social media, somebody, many times using an alias, posts something. That something goes out without any check to world + dog.

    Logically, social media should not be seen as a publisher, let alone a reputable publisher.

    For those with a memory that spans before yesterday, "social media" was the mimeograph machine. I remember those things. I remember seeing benevolent things, and I remember seeing horrible things. The mimeographs were distributed through the mail, or hand to hand. What the modern social media has done, to a certain extent, is make the mask slip a bit from the ones who create the horrible things.

    Taking the mask away is a good start. Let the sun shine, it's a great disinfectant.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: We used to use paper for communication

      That something goes out without any check to world + dog

      That's only because the law currently permits that with no comeback on the "publisher". Social media obviously couldn't exist in its present form without that permission, but there's no a priori reason it must exist in its present form.

      There's no real technical obstacle to restricting the exchange of unedited content to small groups - which would actually cover most of the casual use of, say, Facebook - and preventing communication with a wider group unless an identified individual is prepared to take legal responsibility for it either as the author or as a moderator/editor.

      Now I can fully understand that the social media outlets don't want the hassle and expense of having to confirm the identity of their more vociferous users, but in the end it may be cheaper than having to seek out objectionable material after the event: they could even charge for the privilege, but I suspect they would be reluctant to test the actual value of their "service". None of these large social media operations has an intrinsic right to exist - if there's no economic way for them to operate that is also socially responsible, then they'll have to find something else to do.

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Re: We used to use paper for communication

        Good point made and well expressed.

        It is about time there was a legal test of GFT's legal responsibility as 'publisher', especially in the UK. What would be interesting would be a full disclosure by Facebook of all targeted advertising during the current election campaign, including demographics and reasons for specific individual/group targetting as well as the amounts paid.

        But then Facebook is not accountable for its actions to anyone except to its own CEO.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: We used to use paper for communication

      If Twitter, Facebook, and Google really are Not Publishers, then the billions in advertising that they make every year should be going to the Publishers, the people who log in to their platforms to post their tripe.

      Twitter, Facebook, and Google should be receiving a nominal fee for their services, in the same way that printers and retailers do.

      1. Irongut

        Re: We used to use paper for communication

        Downvoted for your disdain for printers and your ignorance of the huge cut retailers take.

        If you want to compare social media to retail we already have that model - the manufacturer of the content makes a pittance and the retailer (Google, etc) makes all the money.

      2. veti Silver badge

        Re: We used to use paper for communication

        No, T, F&G are the publishers. The people who write are authors (or "content creators", in modern jargon). It's the companies that are responsible for promoting their material and putting it in front of as many eyeballs as possible, which is what publishing is.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: We used to use paper for communication

          My point. They cannot claim they are Not Pubishers but walk off with all the money that comes with running a worldwide publishing operation.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The content gets edited and approved before it goes out to world + dog

      while it's not a dig at the beeb, I am absolutely POSITIVE (or negative, given the outcome) that the "edited" part has been already edited out of the publishing business. In some countries at least. Across the board though. OK, in their e-editions, but still, from the "best" to the shittiest.

    4. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: We used to use paper for communication

      There are many arguments, some good and some bad, about how much the social media companies are publishers and how much they're simply a place that permits communications. Having that debate is fun and interesting. That is, it's fun and interesting when the thing we're talking about publishing is user content. However, when we're talking about advertisements, the balance is tipped heavily in favor of "publisher". The companies have total control over what is said in an ad and who sees it. They get to approve or reject ads if they please. I seriously doubt that Facebook would allow an ad describing Facebook's ills and detailing ways to avoid it. While they're doing that, it's pretty hard to describe them as anything but a publisher.

    5. LDS Silver badge

      "Logically, social media should not be seen as a publisher"

      Why not? It's the social media that actually publish the post - to make money, often paying those making the posts, and even getting rights over posted data. So where's the difference with other publishing platforms?

      There's very little logic in exempting them "just because". Using a mimeograph didn't put you above the law. And knowingly letting someone using one for illegal activities could put you in trouble as well, more even so if you got money (or any other advantage) for it.

      I would agree it the "platform" would be utterly neutral - making money only renting publishing space to someone (which would become wholly responsible for what he/she posts), without any rights on contents, without any control on where the ads eventually shown come from. And they could be still liable if they knowingly support crime.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: "Logically, social media should not be seen as a publisher"

        In simple terms the publisher is the agency that puts the stuff out there.

  3. SVV Silver badge

    the UK will go to the polls amid ongoing disinformation efforts supported by foreign powers

    Nonsense. The FactCheckUK Twitter hoax during the current election was a patriotic British disinformation effort run by the governing Conservative Party, and they have promised that from now on all the disinformation efforts will be homegrown and trustworthy disinformation, as opposed to all that mucky foreign disinformation, which takes away jobs from British disinformers.

    1. Glen 1 Silver badge

      Re: the UK will go to the polls amid ongoing disinformation efforts supported by foreign powers

      "The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. "

      1. Grikath

        Re: the UK will go to the polls amid ongoing disinformation efforts supported by foreign powers

        I thought that was the Labour manifesto?

        Something about bread and circuses, while fanning the fire...

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: the UK will go to the polls amid ongoing disinformation efforts supported by foreign powers

          This one, you mean?

          https://www.labourmanifesto.co.uk/

          (a fake site set up by the Tories, in case it's not obvious)

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: the UK will go to the polls amid ongoing disinformation efforts supported by foreign powers

            It says "A website by the Conservative Party", right there on the front page. How much more obvious would you like it to be, exactly?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              How much more obvious would you like it to be, exactly?

              Perhaps Uncle Slacky would the URL fixed as well?

            2. Ordinary Donkey

              Re: the UK will go to the polls amid ongoing disinformation efforts supported by foreign powers

              Maybe they could make it as obvious as https://www.thetorymanifesto.com/ at least?

              1. TimMaher Bronze badge

                Re: the UK will go to the polls amid ongoing disinformation efforts supported by foreign powers

                Absolutely cracking.

                Upvote and crate of beer for that one.

                I expected the link to go nowhere, but...

                Absolutely cracking.

    2. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: the UK will go to the polls amid ongoing disinformation efforts supported by foreign powers

      Given the politically biased fact checkers such as Labour's The Insider, FullFact and the BBC's Reality Check, all of which are demonstrably full of bias, why shouldn't the Conservative Party have their own too?

      The FactCheckUK "Twitter hoax" (to use your curious term) was very blatantly a political campaign move by a party standing in the election, and since it only existed for under two hours I'm genuinely confused by how many people are so upset about it.

      I mean, I'd certainly rather have well labelled domestic bias than the foreign interference we've had in the past couple of weeks, such as Donald Trump demonstrating he doesn't understand the Withdrawal Agreement reached with the EU, or Hillary Clinton demonstrating that she doesn't understand politics as she was feted by British media organisations.

      You'll be telling me next that Friday's Question Time was fairly moderated and had no Labour Party activists planted in the audience.

      1. CliveS
        Unhappy

        Re: the UK will go to the polls amid ongoing disinformation efforts supported by foreign powers

        "Given the politically biased fact checkers such as Labour's The Insider, FullFact and the BBC's Reality Check"

        I'd agree with The Insider (obviously, you'd have to be pretty dense not to notice insider.labour.org.uk) and - to a lesser extent - Reality Check (generally leaning to the right), but what's your evidence for FullFact's political bias? That some of it's funding comes from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, or the Esme Fairbairn Foundation? Perhaps "Journalist" Enza Ferreri's "articles (she's actually Press Officer for Liberty GB, a bunch of right wing, Christian counter-jihadists (seriously, that's how they describe themselves)).

        "You'll be telling me next that Friday's Question Time was fairly moderated and had no Labour Party activists planted in the audience."

        I don't know about Labour Party plants, but Ryan Jacobz is a Conservative Party activist for East Yorkshire Conservatives who keeps cropping up on Question Time (30/11/2017, 20/04/2018, 31/01/2019, 23/11/2019) wearing the same (or similar, he may have a wardrobe full of them) shirt. Also registered (along with Mark "Gammon" Francois) a subsequently rejected complaint regarding Jeremy Corbyn and undeclared expenses. So at least one Tory plant.

        Part of me should probably be glad that the Conservatives appear so obviously shit at this, from the inept editing of the Starmer interview, the twitter rebrand, or the ease of spotting Tory plants on Question Time. But the ineptitude of some of their actions suggests that they genuinely hold a proportion of the electorate in such contempt that they feel they can get away with this. And - more depressingly - based on what I see locally, they're right, a lot of people are that gullible.

  4. Mitoo Bobsworth

    On Point.

    Sadly, this kind of crap has been going on for centuries - Sacha's point, I think, is the massive availability of bullshit via digital delivery systems & the feeble excuses used by the big six in pursuit of monetization. I flunked most sciences at school, but I'm pretty sure the algorithms written for these platforms are going to be highly motivated by the interest of maximising turnover. The 'freedom of speech' and 'both sides of the story' propositions are pretty feeble when hate speech, nationalist propoganda or proveable lies are given space to those with significant financial means.

  5. chivo243 Silver badge
    Coat

    It's all an illusion

    Those in power have been exploiting those not in power since the dawn of civilization(pretty strange word!). So now that we question those in power, the illusion they have perpetrated is dissolving, now those in power have to resort to the "Don't question me or else" tactics.

    Land of opportunity? Opportunity to be fleeces and rolled?

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: It's all an illusion

      The set of people who are In Power has always been fluid, though. One group of oligarchs or apparatchiks gives way - with varying degrees of reluctance, mostly calibrated by how they perceive their own odds of winning back into power - to another.

      "Now that we question those in power" - actually no we don't, at least no more than we always did. Those in power are only effectively questioned by those who rival them for that power. We can yammer on as much as we like and no-one will care.

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    I get a feeling Cohen may be taking a leaf out of Zelensky's book.

    Comedian playing the part of a political leader, voted in as president.

    1. Blank Reg

      He unlikely to do worse than the current jokers in power.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "autocracy, which depends on shared lies, is on the march"

    I don't like the guy, and what he does generally bothers me with it's infantile and puerile elements, but on this, I have to admit that I stand behind his every word.

    Good on him for saying it. Shame on everyone else that matters for needing him to say it.

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Hate speech is actually banned on our platform"

    Easy to say. Now prove it.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: "Hate speech is actually banned on our platform"

      When "free speech" is "anything goes" nothing can be "hate speech"; it's just "free speech".

      The root problem is that on-line platforms - mostly American run - invariable adopt the American model of "anything goes" which is anathema to those from more civilised quarters.

      America has a far narrower definition of what amounts to "hate speech" than other places.

      The issue is; should we stand up for our own values or adopt America's?

      1. Cris E

        Re: "Hate speech is actually banned on our platform"

        The root problem is that on-line platforms - mostly American run - invariable adopt the American model of "anything goes" which is anathema to those from more civilised quarters.

        And yet they're very clear that that do reject content all the time, posts taken down and accounts suspended for Bad Things. So how do they filter out some materials but not others? It appaears to be a matter of taste, and they like the taste of revenue more than the taste of integrity.

        1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

          Re: "Hate speech is actually banned on our platform"

          So how do they filter out some materials but not others? It appaears to be a matter of taste, and they like the taste of revenue more than the taste of integrity.

          But what is this "integrity"? Most platform moderation applies societal values, those of the society of which they think they are, so mostly "American values", not anyone else's. And, as private companies, they obviously won't want to ban or allow something which will have those holding to such societal values object, boycott them or worse. It's not unreasonable to want to protect one's revenue stream.

          In America; some will complain how "too much nipple" is being allowed while others, noting that "hate is not a crime", will complain too much hate is banned.

          In Europe we'll often see it the opposite way; too much hate being allowed coupled with overly puritanical bans. Elsewhere it's seen as allowing too much with not enough banned.

          The trouble is there's no universally accepted standard of values, no universally defined integrity, or even agreement on what limits there are or aren't, should or shouldn't be, to free speech. We therefore have global companies bringing their own values and integrity to places where people don't see it the same way.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Using your free speech to limit other people's free speech?

    Hmm... Just because you don't like what people say doesn't mean that you get the right to choose whether they can say it.

    Invoking Hitler is exactly the case in point. You can be all high-and-mighty in hindsight, but I don't recall that "start a major war that kills millions, and exterminate parts of the populace" was front and centre of his election propaganda. The point of being really evil is that people don't notice until it's far too late.

    So how in *** is Google meant to prevent World War III? Isn't this actually just: "I don't agree with XXX, so YYY should make them shut up"?

    NB: Not that there aren't a great number of politicians I wish would just shut up. Maybe we can agree that I should be given that power?

    1. CliveS
      WTF?

      Re: Using your free speech to limit other people's free speech?

      "Invoking Hitler is exactly the case in point. You can be all high-and-mighty in hindsight, but I don't recall that "start a major war that kills millions, and exterminate parts of the populace" was front and centre of his election propaganda."

      If you think that, then I'd suggest you look at Nazi propaganda from 1933 onwards. Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring was introduced in July 1933 forced sterilization of "genetic undesirables" and was boosted by a substantial propaganda campaign; a vast amount was directed at forcibly reversing the Versailles Treaty losses; demonisation of Jews and other "undesirables" really kicked off in support of the Nuremburg Laws of 1935.

      "The point of being really evil is that people don't notice until it's far too late."

      One word, Kristallnacht.

      1. Denarius

        Re: Using your free speech to limit other people's free speech?

        @CliveS: << Nazi propaganda from 1933 onwards. Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring was introduced in July 1933 forced sterilization of "genetic undesirables"

        And those were copied from a northern New World country where a president raised the need in 1920 or so to keep the mentally feeble from breeding. Said country was still doing compulsory sterilsation into early 1960s. The rise of "Experts" creating problems that only their special advice could solve goes back further than 20th century Germany.

        IMHO, Given the number of apologists for totalitarianisms who want to "save the world" at everyone elses cost, nothing has changed. As moderns do not exhibit any awareness of political or economic history (is there a real difference?) or the history of ideas the resulting disasters causes will only be seen by the future survivors.

      2. SundogUK Bronze badge

        Re: Using your free speech to limit other people's free speech?

        "... look at Nazi propaganda from 1933 onwards."

        The Nazi's were in power from 1933 - they didn't need to fool anyone any longer.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Using your free speech to limit other people's free speech?

          And they were voted in democratically...

  10. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Unhappy

    ISPs to the rescue? Unlikely!

    I don't do "social media" but when I tell people that I never see adverts on YouTube they look at me in disbelief.

    When first activating a BT broadband connection you're asked if you want to see adult content. They could also ask if you'd like to see any adverts. As for Facebook users, I'm afraid that they're completely screwed.

    P.S. I'm not a BT customer.

  11. c1ue

    The general points are valid, but the problem is that the specific issues being decried aren't clearly as objective as these spokespeople say they are.

    For example, I watched a video of John Stamos talking to at Stanford about the challenges which Facebook has moderating content.

    He put up 2 examples, after talking about how some of his investigators are ex-NSA.

    The problem with his example is that the display of hate-mongering ads isn't necessarily ideological.

    Wired published an article in 2017 (Inside the Macedonian Fake News complex) about a bunch of young people in Macedonia have been publishing exactly such ads - specifically targeting the 2016 election - purely in order to make money. They had very poor English and no ideological agenda - but the economics of online advertising is what drove their activity. Even the content they published was sourced from others; they simply chose what they deemed the most "effective" for clickbait purposes.

    So there are at least one Macedonian town's worth of such muckrakers. Why should that be the only one?

    Then there's the scale of which "the Russians" are supposed to have done ill. That may well be true, but it is still not clear to me how the $100,000 of spending by the RIA somehow significantly mattered vs. the $1.8 billion spent online - $1.1 billion by the Clinton campaign and $750M by Trump. We're talking literally 0.01% of the spend (vs. Clinton) - an addition of 0.013% to "pro-Trump" ad spend.

    Note that Stamos said that the data on spend ($100K, RIA, ads used etc) was all from his team - so he can't claim ignorance as the the provenance of this figure, nor should he be ignorant of just how much revenue Facebook generated as a result of 2016 presidential spending.

    Note that overall political spending in 2016 was $10 billion...

    1. veti Silver badge

      As has been detailed over and over, most exhaustively in the Mueller Report, the ad spending by the IRA was only a tiny fraction of the Russians' total investment in the 2016 election.

      I don't know how big the IRA team was (and neither do you, although Mueller indicted 26 Russian nationals so let's take that as a plausible lower-bound figure), but we do know that they were highly skilled operatives working full time for at least a full year up to the election. That's several million dollars' worth of investment right there. The ads they bought were merely to test the effectiveness of each message, so that the winners could be rammed home by the skilled trolls.

      1. Denarius

        advertising

        Until all advertising, especially political has to pass a "Snopes Test" and fact checking before it can be released, mostly money and influence will sway elections. Also I suggest a decent knowledge of history being a mandatory part of getting a permit to vote. History as in hard data, not speculative theories about what some ancient might have thought. The West has 4000 years of written history, 2500 of it reasonably documented on large scale.

        1. SundogUK Bronze badge

          Re: advertising

          "Snopes Test"

          Obvious left-winger wants obvious left-wingers to censor all advertising...

          1. Pirate Dave Silver badge
            Pirate

            Re: advertising

            Therein lies the problem. Polarization. Objective neutrality isn't seen much these days, most things are slanted to one side or the other. Everyone is pushing one agenda or another. The question is - why? Here in the States, if you turn on the news, it's either the Mainstream Media pushing the their vitriolic anti-Trump campaign non-stop, or it's Fox or OAN pushing for Trump to be made a Saint and declared Emperor. There's no quiet middle-ground of just simple, accurate facts. Obviously, facts aren't glamorous and don't generate "likes" or hipster points amongst the yoof (which is ALWAYS the target demographic these days), so they get shuffled to the side and ignored, or coated with sugar to the point they aren't recognizable anymore.

            For example - I don't expect that, in my lifetime, we will ever get an objective overview of the Trump years. The normal press hates him passionately, and so will tinge everything they report about him in a negative light. And we have no hope of ever getting any truth out of the Trump camp itself. This whole administration will go down in history as a blackhole of truth at the center of a quasar of misinformation.

            1. Ordinary Donkey

              Re: advertising

              Was anyone ever objectively neutral though? Maybe we just got better at detecting bias in people we disagree with. Maybe the internet just made the world smaller so that we can spot it, or more likely have someone in another country point it out to us.

              1. Pirate Dave Silver badge
                Pirate

                Re: advertising

                Valid points. Perhaps my memories have a haze of youth to them, but it seems to me that the media bias in the 70's and 80's was much less pronounced than it is today. I don't know that the world is smaller, but it sure is louder.

            2. DryBones

              Re: advertising

              You'd best be careful. That the truth exists somewhere between two perspectives is a logical fallacy. It doesn't have to, one may be spot on. You're just letting Fox and OAN drag the perception of reality in their direction.

          2. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: advertising

            Snopes Left wing?

            No, not al all.

            Snopes, debunks myths that the right ( and left) want to believe, very much so.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      "the challenges which Facebook has moderating content."

      That's an issue they created themselves wholly just because their own greed, so they have no excuses about not being able to manage it. And they *don't want* to manage it because it would stop the golden eggs making. They are like polluters saying "hey, but waste management would cost us too much!"

  12. niio

    The media giants of Hitler's day did the same thing with their old tech. Hitler was Time Magazine's Person of the Year, the NYT published an opinion piece Hitler wrote.

    1. Dr_N Silver badge

      "Hurrah for the Blackshirts"

      And that rag is still in print.

      1. Dr_N Silver badge

        I've been downvoted for disrespecting the Daily Mail? LOL

    2. LDS Silver badge

      References, please.

      Anyway having committed mistakes in the past doesn't mean it's right to repeat them now.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sacha Baron Cohen

    Sacha, MY HERO!!! Did he put those memorable words on his fb page and twitter yet? :D

  14. Terry 6 Silver badge

    False equivalance

    The evil that has started to rot our democracy is at least partly reinforced by the way that the pronouncements of the ignorant, prejudice or just plain dishonest are now given equal ( or greater ) weight than those of true experts.

    In fact, greater, since it's almost becoming axiomatic that the words of experts are meant to be mistrusted when they conflict with what we want to believe.

    1. Denarius

      Re: False equivalance

      @Terry: Define true experts

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: False equivalance

        How about someone who's actually spent a few years studying a subject from an academic (not polemic) perspective.As opposed to some politician or "influencer" who gets attention for something or other that isn't actually that subject.

      2. Swarthy Silver badge
        Go

        Re: False equivalance

        Man, that is a great example of the aforementioned "false equivalence".

        "I don't give pub rants the same weight as expert opinion; but that so-called expert disagrees with me, so obviously they are not any more an expert than the loudmouth in the pub."

  15. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

    Unprecedented

    What makes the difference is that the majority of the population have immediate access to all this information.

    There was always disinformation, as others have already appointed out.

    Back in the day and now there was/is a load of uncensored bile and foul accusation on Usenet. However most people don't see this.

    At one time rumour spread by word of mouth, letters, telephone calls. More formal transmission was by radio, TV, newspapers but these generally had filters.

    Whatever, the rate of propagation of information was rate limited.

    Now the flow of information is instant and constant.

    This is an unprecedented state and needs new structures to provide some assurance that the information is reliable and/or a massive social change to de-emphasise the credibility of this constant torrent of data.

    We live in interesting times.

  16. headrush
    Facepalm

    It's not freedom of speech, again....

    Bbbut..... capitalism?

    Surely someone has the right to post any crap they want as long as they've paid?

    The more they pay, the stronger their right to post it.

    Posted by the "born in the good old USA" dept.

    ( not my opinion)

  17. Moosh
    Thumb Up

    A part of what he hits on the head is that while Facebook et al claim immunity from content posted by users (which you cannot proactively control but have to retroactively police), they are still gigantic publishers and publish LOTS of content directly; as an example, any and all ads displayed on facebook will have been vetted and approved by the company itself. On this point the comparisons and criticisms he makes are perfectly valid.

  18. Claverhouse Silver badge

    A Stirring Call For Censorship !

    "Under this twisted logic, if Facebook were around in the 1930s, it would have allowed Hitler to post 30-second ads on his 'solution' to the 'Jewish problem,'" said Cohen.

    Nah this is the kind of generic insult that can be applied to anyone, 'Hitler !', 'Think of the Children !'. 'Leads to Nuclear Bombing !'

    .

    Plus, indeed, 'The Wickedest Man in the World' (®) did not in the least advertise the Final Solution in the 1930s, or any time later.

    Some 'Expert'...

    1. Casca

      Re: A Stirring Call For Censorship !

      What has Aleister Crowley to do with Hitler?

  19. quartzz

    Facebook [et all] thinks it's indestructable

  20. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    Booyakasha! Tru Dat!

  21. FrenchFries!

    Fear not...

    AI will fix all of this and save humanity.

  22. Anonymous Coward

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