(Dreamstime/TNS)

(Dreamstime/TNS)

COLUMN: Growing efforts to moderate social media platforms

Major platforms are now paying closer attention to the content posted to their sites

I wish I could forget the morning when I saw a picture of a dead child on my Facebook news feed.

The image was stark and brutal, posted to raise awareness about a war. For the rest of the day, I was stunned. Why had someone chosen to post such an image, and more importantly, why had Facebook not taken it down?

The same thing occurred more recently, when someone I know shared an image with detailed instructions, telling people how to kill themselves if they did not support U.S. President Donald Trump. Whether the intent was humour or a political statement, the post crossed the bounds of common decency.

Why would anyone post this image and text, and why didn’t Facebook take it down?

READ ALSO: Canada’s five big banks join anti-hate advertising boycott of Facebook

READ ALSO: Twitter bans Trump, citing risk of incitement

These posts are not the only times I’ve wondered about the moderation policy on social media sites. There are times when disproved and dangerous medical advice is dispensed, or when hatred of an identifiable group is encouraged.

Before the days of social media, if such content had been shared through an internet forum or online discussion group, a moderator would have deleted it. Social media sites have traditionally taken a more hands-off approach.

Things are beginning to change. Some of the social media giants are now paying attention to the content posted on their sites.

Last week, Facebook announced it would crack down on vaccine misinformation on its platform. This announcement follows earlier moves by Facebook to exercise more oversight and to add fact-check tags to posts promoting inaccurate or misleading content. Other large social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, are also doing more to monitor content.

The ability to monitor social media content has been in place for years. The major platforms have traditionally had community standards in place and have been able to remove posts or ban users for violating these standards. Why were these tools not used in the past?

Some will argue this latest move by Facebook to target vaccine misinformation is nothing more than a calculated censorship scheme — an effort to silence all speech other than that conforming to a specific ideology. If anti-vaccine posts are prohibited today, will content about religion or politics be banned tomorrow?

Such speculation fails to understand the nature of censorship or social media platforms. Censorship is a government’s attempt to control speech and other content. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram are private businesses, not government entities.

A decision by social media platforms to refute or block certain content does not necessarily silence any voices. The big social media platforms are not the only options for social media users.

There are some U.S.-based platforms, modelled after Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, which allow registered users to post with little or no moderation. These unfiltered social media platforms are attracting a certain segment of the public, most notably the alt-right segment, extremists and those who are posting content that would be pulled down from the dominant social media platforms.

At present, these are small players in the world of social media, but if there is enough of a demand for an unfiltered platform, they could eventually become the dominant social media sites.

The question is whether the majority of social media users want an unfiltered platform, no matter what they see, or whether they instead want a degree of moderation in their social media feeds.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

To report a typo, email:
news@summerlandreview.com
.



news@summerlandreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Columnist

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Baldy Mountain Resort is temporarily closed following the death of a resort family member. Pictured above is a sunrise at the resort, Feb. 19, 2021. (Baldy Mountain Resort/Facebook)
Baldy Mountain ski hill closed following death of resort family member

Authorities currently investigating, resort set to reopen Sunday, Feb. 27

The Oliver Municipal Aiport runway will be extended in spring 2021. (Oliver Municipal Airport / Facebook)
Oliver airport runway to be extended

The extension will be funded through a provincial grant

Butter and sourdough bread is shown at a house in Vernon, B.C. on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. A Quebec dairy farmers’ group is calling on milk producers to stop feeding palm oil or its derivatives to livestock as controversy churns over how these supplements affect the consistency of butter. (THE CANADIAN PRESS - Jesse Johnston)
Poll: Care to spread your feelings on butter?

Reports of hard butter have rattled the Canadian dairy industry

Ponderosa Primary Care Centre in Penticton is considered a model for care clinics going forward by the South Okanagan Division of Family Practice. (Monique Tamminga)
Mayor of Oliver calls on province to address South Okanagan doctor shortage

‘None of the people in our acquaintance that we’ve come to know here in Oliver have their own doctor’

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Chase RCMP held two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight in their detachment’s cells on Feb. 6. (File Photo)
Chase RCMP hold two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight

The two seperate incidents took place less than an hour apart.

Kamloops Fire Rescue battled a landfill fire which belched toxic smoke into the air on Feb. 27. (City of Kamloops Photo)
Fire at Kamloops landfill sends thick black smoke into the air

Firefighters made slow progress on the fire throughout the morning.

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

(HelloKelowna - Twitter)
West Kelowna billboard bearing anti-vaccine messaging deemed misleading

Ad Standards investigated the billboard, noting a lack of evidence to support the messaging

Send your letter to the editor via email to news@summerlandreview.com. Please included your first and last name, address, and phone number.
LETTER: Summerland affordable housing proposal opposed

“For a building that will change the dynamic of a small town, I would have expected more discussion.”

Baldy Mountain Resort is temporarily closed following the death of a resort family member. Pictured above is a sunrise at the resort, Feb. 19, 2021. (Baldy Mountain Resort/Facebook)
Baldy Mountain ski hill closed following death of resort family member

Authorities currently investigating, resort set to reopen Sunday, Feb. 27

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Chase RCMP arrest intoxicated man running into highway traffic

The man was wanted on several warrents in Alberta; was held overnight but released

Most Read