Sprinkles from the Left

⏰🚀 Ready, Set, Go: These opinions take 1.74 minutes to read.

“A forthcoming study about misinformation on Facebook will say that false stories earned more clicks than facts six times over during the 2020 election… Facebook will say the study itself misinforms.

This story is familiar: Researchers repeatedly publish findings on the far and fast spread of sensational material on social media sites, and the sites reply that the data the researchers are using is flawed — all the while withholding access to numbers they claim are more elucidating…

Facebook has a point when it argues that misinformation is a society-wide scourge that doesn’t start or end on its products. It also has a point that the workarounds researchers routinely employ provide an incomplete picture…

On the flip side… there is no way for researchers to produce the complete picture Facebook protests they are missing if Facebook won’t let them see half of what they’re trying to paint…

Congress can do more than express frustration about platforms’ stinginess: crafting a system that compels companies to produce specific types of data under specific circumstances, as well as shields them from privacy repercussions when they comply. The alternative is more studies all saying the same thing, and more responses from Facebook saying just the opposite.”

–Washington Post Editorial Board

“From groundless conspiracy theories that the vaccines contain microchips or alter people’s DNA to deliberate falsehoods about vaccine deaths and mask side effects, the pandemic misinformation industry is thriving in the US, more than a year and a half after the pandemic began.

Two features of modern American life seem most to blame for the angry distrust and intractable division that surround us: the dissemination machine of social media and the rejection of fact-based sources of information by many on the right, particularly among politicians and media…

Medical misinformation has caused death and incalculable human misery over the past century and a half. Today, it is thwarting efforts to end the catastrophic phase of the Covid-19 pandemic…

The history of medical misinformation offers critical lessons from the past about regulation, media and the political and financial interests that drive such mendacity. They point to the effectiveness of regulating medical misinformation and the need for trustworthy institutions. But they also show the need to move past calls to “believe science” and on to a culture of humility and transparency when it comes to scientific knowledge about medicine and public health…

In the past, medical misinformation has been best combated by rigorous regulation, a refusal to amplify untrue claims, and the construction of trustworthy systems of validating and sharing medical knowledge that aren’t driven by financial or political interest.

These are not easy to achieve — especially when one political party is implacably opposed to them — but they offer a path forward from the treacherous medical misinformation that has prolonged the ravages of this pandemic.”

–Nicole Hemmer, CNN Opinion

Sprinkles from the Right

⏰🚀 Ready, Set, Go: These opinions take 1.71 minutes to read.

“We seem to be living in an age of enlightened corporate despotism, where social media and technology companies watch over what we read and what we discuss to protect us from ourselves.

That corporate governance model was on display this month when Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called on Amazon CEO Andy Jassy to use algorithms to steer readers away from books that spew “misinformation”

Calling for companies to protect us from ourselves is the ultimate in enlightened despotism. It is ironic that Warren has denounced the use of “racist” algorithms in biometric technology like facial recognition. She objects to the error rate in such algorithms but has few such concerns when other algorithms are used to curtail free speech.

The embrace of corporate censorship reflects a change in attitude of many toward free speech. Once the very defining right of our constitutional system, it is now more often portrayed as an existential threat to that system. Speech is now “harmful,” and allowing the expression of unpopular opinions is treated as an act of an accomplice.

Once free speech is defined as harmful or violent, the algorithms can take it from there. At the urging of our leaders, companies like Amazon can censor “everything for the people, nothing by the people.”

We can then live under the enlightened despotism of governing algorithms that protect us from our dangerous curiosities.”

–Jonathan Turley, USA Today Opinion

“For too long, Big Tech has controlled what we say by imprinting into the minds of the masses a certain worldview. Big Tech has silenced dissenters, making those who dare to disagree with them outcasts… The very notion that a company would hire someone to fact-check private speech is outrageous. We should not tolerate lies, but it is not the job of a powerful few to label something as a “lie”; it is the job of the content consumer to do so…

Fact-checkers have shifted their focus to fight “misinformation” about COVID-19 vaccines. Every day, new, credible studies uncover information about the vaccination effort, and this changing information makes some people skeptical about the vaccines. Yet many insist on labeling those who are skeptical as “anti-vaxxers”…

We should all continue to express our thoughts honestly, unfiltered and uninhibited. Every person should conduct his or her own research to determine whether something someone says appears to be true. After all, what another person says could be wrong, but it is not a stranger’s — nor a “fact-checker’s” — job to tell you that. Each of us must consider the facts, connect the dots, and come to our own conclusions. Sure, we might get it wrong; everyone does that sometimes because we are human. But right always prevails over wrong, the truth overcomes fallacies, and good triumphs over evil.”

–Armstrong Williams, The Hill Opinion