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Major socmed sites efforts vs hate, disinformation merely empty promises, group says

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A group says efforts made by major social media platforms this year against the spread of hate and lies online are "nothing more than empty promises."
File photo: Facebook's web interface

FB, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube fail to address hate and lies

Following a review made by the US-based group Free Press, it said policies of Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube have failed to address the proliferation of hate and disinformation on the internet.

Free Press is part of Change the Terms, a coalition of more than 60 civil consumer-rights organizations. It developed a set of 15 priority reforms for social media companies to implement ahead of the midterm elections in the US.

Such reforms aim to fight the spread of hate and lies and protect all users. And increase the transparency of social media firms.

The coalition was in constant communication with the companies throughout the summer of 2022, calling them to implement these and to also share data about their enforcement.

Over the last several months, we continued to follow up with the companies in writing, yet we have received no substantive response from Meta, Twitter or YouTube, the group said.

Meta, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube fail to provide sufficient data to show whether there are significant gaps in their policies' applications and enforcement, and have created a labyrinth of company commitments, announcements, and policies that make it difficult to assess performance, it noted.

Free Press further noted that Meta and TikTok make the most comprehensive commitments based on their stated policies alone. However, Meta only met two of the 15 demands, while TikTok only met one.

Meanwhile, the policies of both Twitter and YouTube failed to meet any of the 15 demands.

All four companies fail to close what they call "newsworthiness" or "public interest" exceptions that give prominent users a "get out of jail free" card and allow them to post as they choose. Every promising protective policy seems as though it could be circumvented with each platform’s arbitrary "newsworthiness" or "public interest” exception," Free Press pointed out.

Specifically on video platforms TikTok and YouTube, they do not report "denominators" on violative videos to show user impressions or the length of time videos were kept up before such content is taken down.

While they claim to have crafted and enforced new policies addressing the spread of such toxic content, these claims are difficult for independent auditors to verify. The companies’ websites are tangles of contradictory policies and standards that are difficult to unravel. Reporters covering the technology sector should take nothing from the platforms at face value. Every claim must be backed by empirical evidence and a full-field view of its impact, the group said.

Free Press adds the need for social media platforms to do more in terms of curbing online hate and lies is growing more urgent by the day.

The platforms must stop making empty promises—and show the courage and commitment necessary to fix their feeds, it said.

Checkout the results of Free Press' review below:

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Free Press said it will continue to call on the platforms to stop "amplifying date and disinformation" content and to put in place algorithms without discrimination.

It also urges the companies to equally protect users through increased resourcing for civic-integrity teams year-round, and boost transparency about their business models and implementation of policies, and ensure access to data for external researchers and journalists.

Do you agree with this the group's findings?

Source: Free Press
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