Opinion: Users not suppliers to blame for false news

Gideo Lewis-Kraus, Wired, January 15, 2020, warns that to blame social media for the end of evidence-based political discourse is unproductive since users drive the phenomenon. It isn’t touching the problem to ban false information and to blame the suppliers for the misdeeds of the users. “…our burden has little to do with limiting or moderating the supply of political messages or convincing those with false beliefs to replace them with true ones,” writes Lewis-Kraus, “Rather, the challenge is to persuade the other team to change its demands—to convince them that they’d be better off with different aspirations. This is not a technological project but a political one.”

Mike Masnick, techdirt, January 28, 2020, agrees that it is misplaced to blame technology for societal problems. “For quite some time now,” writes Masnick, “we’ve pointed out that we should stop blaming technology for problems that are actually societal. Indeed, as you look deeper at nearly every ‘big tech problem,’ you tend to find the problem has to do with people, not technology. And ‘fixing’ technology isn’t really going to fix anything when it’s not the real problem. Indeed, many proposals to ‘fix’ the tech industry seem likely to exacerbate the problems we’re discussing.”

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