Opinion | Can a Facebook Oversight Board Push Back the Ocean? – By Kara Swisher – The New York Times

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Ms. Swisher covers technology and is a contributing Opinion writer.

Credit…Richard Drew/Associated Press

“So, big surprise, I have not been asked to be on Facebook’s Supreme Court of content. I was all ready to do an anti-Sherman if called: I will accept if nominated and will serve if elected.

Half of its members were finally announced on Wednesday morning, including four co-chairs, one of whom is Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a former prime minister of Denmark. She is clearly aces in terms of reputation and credibility, one of a slate of 20 members who scream global, fancy résumés, diverse and politically balanced.

Together, the independent organization, which is funded by the social media giant by a trust it cannot mess with, will judge appeals from users on material that has been taken down from the platform by the company, and it will review policy decisions that the company has submitted to the board.

The group selected so far — there are 20 more names to come — is qualified to do all that and a bag of chips. There is a former judge and vice president of the European Court of Human Rights (Andras Sajo), the former editor in chief of The Guardian (Alan Rusbridger), a Nobel Peace Prize recipient who promoted free speech in Yemen during the Arab Spring (Tawakkul Karman), a vice chancellor of the National Law School of India University (Sudhir Krishnaswamy), the former director general of the Israeli Ministry of Justice (Emi Palmor) and the leader of Africa’s Internet Without Borders (Julie Owono).

Impressively impressive no doubt, and designed to be that way, which is why it is also nonoffensively nonoffensive.

As yet, there are no loudmouths, no cranky people and, most important, no one truly affected by the dangerous side of Facebook. I asked in a press call on Wednesday morning, for example, why there were no board members like the parents of the Sandy Hook victims, who were terrorized by the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on the platform until he was finally tossed off. I also asked whether we could find out who turned down an offer to be on the oversight board.”

David Lindsay:

After the 2016 election, I learned that Facebook, confronted with the fact that Russian and Republican bullies and scoundrels had promoted fake news on Facebook, and helped it go viral with trolls and bots. Facebook refused to do anything about this disastrous misuse of thier now major news platform. It became clear to me that Facebook had to be broken up and  regulated, like all news organizations.

Here is the most popular comment, which I support:

Paul Mc
Cranberry Twp, PA

If our Justice department still had an anti-trust division, worthy of the name, Facebook would have been broken up long ago, or regulated and held accountable for it’s content, as are (most) other legitimate media organizations.

6 Replies127 Recommended

Opinion | How Elon Musk Won the Fight to Reopen His Tesla Factory – By Kara Swisher – The New York Times

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Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“How do you solve a problem like a tweet-storming Elon Musk?

Memo to the officials of Alameda County in Northern California: You don’t.

Of course, hindsight is 20-20, as the county officials have found in a high-profile tussle this week with Mr. Musk, the famous, and occasionally infamous, entrepreneur known for electric cars, space rockets, tunnel digging and creative baby-naming.

And, most of all, for tweet-baiting, which Mr. Musk used to great effect while clashing with local officials over the timing and terms of reopening of his Tesla factory in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Fremont. Mr. Musk closed the plant after shelter-in-place rules were put in place in March (after initially defying orders).

But now Mr. Musk has apparently had enough. He filed a lawsuit and threatened to move operations and 10,000 jobs out of state, even as several reports indicated that he had restarted production at the plant over the weekend, flouting the rules and attracting the ire of the local government.”

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Opinion | Fox’s Fake News Contagion – By Kara Swisher – The New York Times

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Ms. Swisher covers technology and is a contributing opinion writer.

Credit…Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“You can relax, Sean Hannity, I’m not going to sue you.

Some people are suggesting that there might be grounds for legal action against the cable network that you pretty much rule — Fox News — because you and your colleagues dished out dangerous misinformation about the virus in the early days of the crisis in the United States. Some might allege that they have lost loved ones because of what was broadcast by your news organization.

But lawsuits are a bad idea. Here’s why: I believe in Fox News’s First Amendment right as a press organization, even if some of its on-air talent did not mind being egregiously bad at their jobs when it came to giving out accurate health data.

And, more to the point, when all is said and done, my Mom will listen to her children over Fox News. One of us — my brother — is an actual doctor and knows what he is talking about. And the other is a persistent annoyance — that would be me.

I’m a huge pest, in fact. “I’m going to block your number, if you don’t stop,” my mother said to me over the phone several weeks ago from Florida, after I had texted her the umpteenth chart about the spread of coronavirus across the country. All of these graphs had scary lines that went up and to the right. And all of them flashed big honking red lights: Go home and stay there until all clear.

She ignored my texts, so I had switched to calling her to make sure she had accurate information in those critical weeks at the end of February and the beginning of March. She is in the over-80 group that is most at risk of dying from infection. I worry a lot.

But she was not concerned — and it was clear why. Her primary source of news is Fox. In those days she was telling me that the Covid-19 threat was overblown by the mainstream news media (note, her daughter is in the media). She told me that it wasn’t going to be that big a deal. She told me that it was just like the flu.

And, she added, it was more likely that the Democrats were using the virus to score political points. And, did I know, by the way, that Joe Biden was addled?”

David Lindsay: Excellent piece, thank you Kara Swisher. Here are a few of many good comments I recommended:

Todd
San Fran

@The Owl Wrong. A visit to any red state will quickly demonstrate that Fox/GOP/Russian talking points are the community discourse. Of course, it’s not just Fox, it’s the entire right-wing propaganda apparatus that parrots the same party line. Dissension is met with anger and, as your post demonstrate, derision. That’s one of the many geniuses of the far-right Fox rhetoric: it not only teaches a single-minded message, but also trains its viewers to become angry and dismissive when presented with opposing points of view. In that way they remain prisoners to the GOP agenda, and are convinced to vote and act against their own self-interest.

In Reply to Phyliss Dalmatian
866 recommeded
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BenR
Philadelphia
Times Pick

Bring back the Fairness Doctrine, abolished by President Regan in the 80’s, a federal policy requiring television and radio broadcasters to present contrasting viewpoints on controversial issues of public importance. That would be the death knell of Fox News and all the Limbaugh ‘conservative’ talk radio and hopefully lead to a more informed public.

23 Replies752 Recommended

Opinion | Trump Is Too Dangerous for Twitter – By Kara Swisher – The New York Times

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Ms. Swisher covers technology and is a contributing opinion writer.

CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“It’s almost as if Donald Trump is trying to get impeached.

By Twitter, I mean.

That’s where the twitchy fingers of the president of the United States have been working overtime to try to get him tossed off the digital communications service by posting all kinds of rule-breaking things and often in all caps with lots of exclamation marks — just so we don’t miss them.

But just as the internet companies have been gifted with a big hug of a law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which extends them broad immunity from controversial content that is posted on their platforms, Mr. Trump has been given an epic pass on Twitter for whatever he does.

Why? Basically, he’s been deemed newsworthy by the company.

True enough. But that means that every day and literally twice on Sunday, it’s more incendiary tweets and rage-filled tweets and appalling tweets and reckless tweets and misleading tweets and inaccurate tweets and really inaccurate tweets. And the many lies as tweets — so, so many tweet lies.”

Opinion | Can the People Who Almost Brought Down the News Business Save It? – by Kara Swisher – The New York Times

“. . . Mr. Benioff said he had been looking to extend the active personal investing — sometimes he calls it philanthropy — his family was doing already, in areas like climate change, public schools and health care for children. He said he looked at all the assets, such as Fortune, but was soon attracted to Time’s broader audience and wider circulation, as well as its pedigree of excellence. He claims that it is profitable, too, which was also an attraction.

“Time is a name that was most trusted for a rapidly changing society,” he said, one that still has “the ability to reach readers on a multidimensional level.”

Ticking off stats on the magazine’s readership, video views, event successes and digital impressions, Mr. Benioff sounded like a man on a mission to make us all understand that this brand of the past is surely the brand of the future.

And the jovial billionaire, who was wearing one of his endless supply of Hawaiian shirts, said he would be putting his copious money — $6.6 billion — where his voluble mouth is. He plans to give Time “as much investment as it needs” to succeed.

Mr. Benioff is not, of course, the first tech mogul to buy a diminished media asset recently. He joins a group that includes Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who bought The Washington Post; Laurene Powell Jobs, who has invested in The Atlantic and several other publications; and the biotech entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong, who purchased The Los Angeles Times.”

DL: Yes and thank you. Here is a comment I endorsed with enthusiasm.

Robert
Seattle

“Can the People Who Almost Brought Down the News Business Save It?”

Benioff, Google, Facebook, Apple, et al. did not bring down the fact-based news business by themselves. Reagan undid the Fairness Doctrine and initiated the deregulatory train wreck that has never stopped. We have not had so little appropriate regulation since the 1930s. Most of these companies are natural monopolies that should be regulated like the utilities they are. Their unfair market power makes everything go sour, including the fact-based news business. No evidence supports the Trump Republican and libertarian deregulatory tulip mania. Progressives, however, have been far too complacent. They were sucked in by the silly and untrue industry-wide “do no evil” marketing PR, and the new age internet Kool-Aid. The free press was never only a business per se. It has always been a vital public service utility whose presence was explicitly required by the Constitution. Every American who can afford it must subscribe to at least one online or print news source, and must vote for the appropriate regulation of these businesses which are now the most valuable and the most powerful businesses in the world. The Russian Facebook and Google YouTube interference in the last election on behalf of Trump should be the last straw.

Opinion | The Expensive Education of Mark Zuckerberg and Silicon Valley – by Kara Swisher – NYT

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Let me first state that I actually like Mark Zuckerberg and have since the day I met him more than a dozen years ago.

But let me also say that he and Facebook, the huge social network that he started in college, have been working humanity’s last nerve for far too long now.

Every week, it’s something, and that something is never good.

This week, it was the revelation that the Russians — or, more precisely, a group of geek thugs who are acting the exact same way that a group of Russians acted when they messed with the 2016 United States elections on Facebook — are still skulking around the platform and making trouble for the midterms.

This comes as no surprise to anyone at this point, except for maybe President Trump. I suppose we should be grateful that this time it was Facebook’s management that revealed the news, in a departure from the company’s previous stance of stubbornly resisting pressure from the government and the media to be more transparent. (Over the past months, it has copped to trouble in Brazil, Mexico and Russia, which is a good sign, although a report on Sunday from Britain’s Parliament rebuked the company for being “unwilling or unable to give full answers to the committee’s questions.”)

via Opinion | The Expensive Education of Mark Zuckerberg and Silicon Valley – The New York Times