Facebook Takes a Stance on Misinformation
Is Facebook a publish or a platform?
That has been a long-standing debate. In public, Facebook has taken the stance that it is a platform. In courts though, it says yes. While this is a grotesque oversimplification, one argument stands regardless of where you are in this debate, Facebook is in part, both.
There are many cases of products or services that live in between classifications, and have been just commonly accepted as gray areas. Think about wild-life pets that have been rescued. While you are not allowed to have wild pets, you are allowed to rescue one and probably would not be punished for rescuing and nurturing it until you can set it free or give it to the proper authorities. Little areas of gray.
Now, Facebook has taken a stance. Mark Zuckerberg in an interview with BBC stating:
"Even if something isn't going to lead to imminent physical harm, we don't want misinformation to be the content that is going viral. "
As a platform, freedom of speech has been an important cornerstone of the philosophy of Facebook. However, with time, they have realized of one of the unfortunate truths about freedom of speech.
Freedom of speech does not mean free of consequences.
This may be a turning point for Facebook, and for social media. Maybe, it's time to take a stance.
The first big action that has had immediate reaction has been the taking down of posts by Brazilean President Jair Bolsonaro, classifying them as misinformation that could lead to imminent physical harm.
This is an uphill battle for Facebook, and it will require the support of its users to breakthrough and combat what has been a clear epidemic for many years, the abundance of misinformation that is defensible because of the amount of believers, rather than the quality of information.