Social media platforms are again receiving backlash from politicians for profiting from coronavirus-related “misinformation”. While platforms such as Facebook and YouTube have actively pledged that they would put misinformation on a tight leash and have been censoring heavily, their efforts seem to have not been up to the mark, at least according to Democrats who want them to censor more.
In a forum organized by George Washington University’s Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics (IDDP) on the topic of “misinformation negligence” on social media platforms and its consequences, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made several critical comments over how non-mainstream narrative has become a huge problem in recent times. Pelosi is among a growing group of Democrats that have spoken out against social media platforms in the past few weeks.
Pelosi said that there was an increasingly evident need for bipartisan support to “get tough on platforms”, especially considering the COVID-19 situation.
More shockingly, Speaker Pelosi has called on advertisers to leverage their power over social media platforms to discourage them from letting misinformation prevail.
“Advertisers are in a position of power … [they] have tremendous leverage,” Pelosi said. “Platforms have a business model and they need to advertise,” the Speaker said, without going any further.
She also argued, saying that “we are at a day of reckoning” and also took jibes at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s stance on letting The President’s posts remain on the platform without editorial.
“Fact-checking is not censorship and labeling a call to violence is not authoritarian,” said Pelosi.
(Keep in mind that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that when a post is “fact-checked” on the platform, it reduces the number of people that see it by 95%.)
The forum where Pelosi spoke, also featured several healthcare workers who shared their opinions on how misinformation was making matters worse, commenting that they are now “fighting two viruses – COVID19 and misinformation”.
Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island who also spoke on the forum, lent his thoughts on an allegedly lackadaisical attitude of social media towards misinformation, saying that they were making “way too much money” to make effective changes and start taking issues more seriously.
(Keep in mind many advertisers were already blacklisting content related to coronavirus, whether it was factual or so-called misinformation, and preventing their ads from appearing alongside it anyway 1,2)
“With tremendous economic power, it’s often accompanied by tremendous political power, and they are already investing a lot to give them more political power,” Cicilline said. “We are going to be in for the fight of our lives.”