American Public Radio produces a public radio program (available via podcast, which is the way I listen to it) called THE STORY, and it’s just that, stories of interesting lives and incidents.
From their description:
“The Story with Dick Gordon brings the news home – through passionate points of view and personal experiences. The program brings together ordinary and extraordinary people to provide perspective on the issues which affect us all. Our goal is to inspire conversation, thinking and understanding. Produced at North Carolina Public Radio – WUNC.”
The stories are hit and miss, but today’s lead story, covering Stacy Arnout Smith and Facebook is definitely a hit. A must listen tale, a cautionary tale of the pitfalls and perils of companies that are not held accountable for the content of their site, and the crushing potential for both defamation and privacy invasion that it opens up you, the individual, to.
It discusses how Facebook’s lack of checks and balances, and oversight nearly destroyed one successful woman’s career and life
Compelling and thought-provoking listening.
To my mind the medium is the message. FCC used to fine radio stations for inappropriate language, and the last time I checked they still do. I think social media requires the same type of checks and balances. More so, because the ease of entry is lower. So FaceBook or YouTube, etc should be held liable if their site is used to post pornographic pictures, or libelous, or hate filled rhetoric. Just as I would be liable if I sold space on the outside of my house, for anyone to put up posters or advertising.
Under the rules granted to Facebook or Youtube etc, I could just say “I ‘m not responsible for the content!”, and if you don’t like the naked pics on the outside of my house, or curse words, etc… I just say, “too bad. I just rent the space. You have to talk to the posters. Or better yet just tell your kids not to look when they walk past my house! What are you trying to do? Censor me!? What are you unamerican?!”
Of course me trying that argument as an individual, is idiotic, and not going to fly with neighbors, police, neighborhood associations, schools, or the courts.
I try that crap, that CL, YOUTUBE, FACEBOOK defense, and I (or You) as an individual would be under the jail.
And I say rightly so, because as soon as you create a medium, a vehicle for the public to view that content, then yes that is definitely your responsibility, if anything you post violates reasonable standards of decency. Who is more criminal… the man who creates the deadly drug in his basement, or the organization that allows the distribution of that deadly drug to millions of basements?
The medium is the message.
So if it is a right, and moral, and legal stance to impose on each other and our neighbors, these limitations to keep personal and private boundaries, to maintain this tenuous thing called civilization and culture, how is it that corporations/social media sites may eschew any such recognition of local mores and laws? How is it social media sites get away with, in essence, the erosion of civility and civilization.
Companies such as Facebook, Craigslist, Youtube, Google, Wikipedia, “insert social media site here”, get away with doing EXACTLY this… overriding local, regional, even national mores and standards… with no oversight or controls or potential liability.
It’s insane, it’s dangerous, and worse, the current lawless nature of social media… threatens to damage social interaction more than it seemingly invigorates it by, in ways subtle and gross, imposing on all cultures a singular culture… the culture of the lowest common denominator.
My final take on today’s podcast program is– Social Media sites not only should be held liable for the content that they become a worldwide vehicle for, the defamation, the pornography, the violence, the hate, the identity theft, but they MUST BE held liable if anything close to locally determined culture is to survive.
If privacy, personal boundaries, and the very concept of the value of the individual… is to survive as true and viable concepts in this still new century, companies and social media sites must be held liable.
With simple checks and balances imposed on Social Media sites, the arduous path that Susan Arnout Smith, wife, author, and mother, had to endure, and increasing numbers of people have to endure… would have been a non-issue.
What checks and balances?
Glad you asked. Well…
1/a filtering system to keep objectionable material from being posted in the first place- how simple is that?
2/Every site created should within 72 hours or so, have a pair of eyes, actual people (imagine that), that just look at the site very quickly to see if it may be a malware or phishing site or otherwise violate listing rules
3/A real customer service department that users can actually reach a real person by email/phone and report offensive or problematic sites or sites that violate standards. And an easy way to get sites pulled or shutdown.
4/ The above said, you also have to be aware of frivolous attempts by spammers to remove legitimate sites. The easiest way to resolve that is to offer different levels of social media pages. Example, a “free” facebook page, easily setup and easily removed if any violations comes in or are reported and a “paid” facebook or social media page, backed up by actual contact/credit card info, that will have an assigned customer service rep to assist with conflicts/inquiries.
The above are four very simple steps, that social media sites, that are raking in the dough with very little overhead, could afford to enforce, put in affect, to the improvement, both financial and qualitative, of both themselves and their users. Whether they will enforce it, depends on you, and how much you cry about your neighbor putting up offensive material on the outside of his house.
Do to these companies, what you would do to your neighbor if they put this offensive material on the outside of their house.
Hold them accountable. Report them. file criminal complaints. File civil complaints. Sue them. Make them accountable.
Make them… civil.
Listen to the episode here and I’ll think you’ll be made… aware of the need for change with all Social Media sites :