Tech's free speech debate is about Zuckerberg vs. Dorsey

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Many Americans are facing different realities disparities in covert nineteen deaths for one and right now they're expressing outrage over different things for some stay at home orders have moved them to protest for others it's police violence against unarmed citizens it can feel as though we're living in two different countries so we're talking about that today and one of the places where you can feel America's divide is social media we're divisions are also stoked by trolls and disinformation social media companies try to monitor that to varying degrees and with varying success but even that is divisive as we've seen this week when president trump expressed fury after some of his tweets were flagged by Twitter for potentially misleading information about mail in balloting then yesterday the company flag one of his tweets about the Minneapolis protest for quote unquote glorifying violence president trump signed an executive order aiming to weaken legal protections tech companies have had for years it's unclear whether he has the authority to do that but given all the events of recent days we want to talk more about this so we've called three prominent figures in this debate Karen Swisher is the co founder of Rico that's a site focused on tech news and New York times contributing writer has been pushing Twitter in particular to take far more aggressive steps in policing false information Swisher welcome back thanks for joining us once again thanks so much financial or is the executive director of aspen digital that's a non partisan organization that researches issues related to tech and digital media and she has a long resume in both digital and traditional media including as a president and CEO of NPR so we very much welcome back to you via thanks Michelle glad to be here Matthew Feeney is the director of the project on emerging technologies at the Cato Institute that's a libertarian research and advocacy group here in Washington DC Matthew Feeney welcome to you thank you for joining us as well no thanks for having me the cast which I'm going to start with you because on Wednesday you wrote an op ed in The New York Times this is after Twitter label to the president's tweets regarding mail in ballots as potentially misleading and they added some contextual information and you called this move a baby step why well it's the first thing they can do I mean a lot of they could have banned them they could have taken down the tweet they could have a lot of things but this is the first time Twitter is ever done any kind of I don't want to use the word punishment this is the wrong thing they've ever taken any action against president trump when he violates their rules which he does all the time you know we could spend a whole program talking about this will tell us more broadly what's your point of view about this well I think they are like publishers and so they have some responsibility instead they allow all district to wash over their platforms and in fact get taken advantage of by malevolent forces and so I think they should do more monitoring of it to fit first of all I love them just to get rid of some of the stuff that's obviously used for propaganda but they just let anybody do anything and what it does is create this sort of giant mass of humanity which nobody knows what is true or not and then other players take advantage of it Alex Jones was the most famous obviously he got tossed off all the platforms so you usually what I want to say you are here and your own capacity as a media executive as a person with a deep background in addition to working at NPR as a president CEO you also work for Twitter but I'm going to ask you on your own hook to tell us what you think about this week's news look I think Twitter has been slow on this I think they should have taken action some time ago that said these are really tricky decisions Twitter now that they've taken an action with the president it's going to be really difficult for them to keep up you know there are five hundred million tweets roughly that are sent every day and there are already calls across the board of what about this tweet what about that tweet and it's going to be very very tricky for them I'm glad they took the move but now the camel's nose in the tent Mr anywhere your thoughts I think this puts on not just with about other social media comes into a tough spot here which is that they are trying to figure out how to moderate this kind of content while remaining in the eyes of the uses the gentleman and it's not a surprise to me at all that in the wake of a good decision to fact check that they have been allegations of inconsistency but anyone looking for inconsistency and this debate is is short to find its there are hundreds of hours of footage uploaded to YouTube every minute there are hundreds of millions of tweets posted every day Hey the system won't be perfect and in fact the way that these phones tree contents depends not oftentimes on the Afrin content itself but what's being said about this and and that is something I wish more people understood in the debate which is a really really hard decisions and unfortunately causing a lot of people on the political rights in the United States of feeling bad somehow agencies would be better at this than private companies and while I think will will never be completely happy with how these private firms navigate these difficult content moderation decisions I would much prefer a private family of public failure in this film while some are because I think of the history of government regulation of speech reveals lessons namely that we should be wary office the fact is that social media is much more than Silicon Valley and their alternatives out there of course the the interesting thing about all of this is that in this debate many people on the Merican conservative space seem to forget that competition is is valuable there all of the social media networks out there well Mister you raised the issue that is it's you know we raising it kind of as a back drop here but it is actually a very big part of this whole discussion which is that there is this argument on the right which is certainly embraced by president trump that these companies social media companies are silencing conservative voices but Democrats and progressives have their own criticisms which is that these platforms have no standards and allow people to be libeled and slandered and somebody's very painful and in some cases dangerous ways I mean the data on the fact that women how women in particular women of color treated on these platforms and targeted particularly public figures who are women there's a great deal of data about the fact that and how they are targeted so she took care of so so the question then becomes you know how to do these things get address of care you want to jump in please do yeah I think let's be clear these are private companies they're not public squares and that's the one thing that seems to happen with the writer like my free speech rights be able to specifically you can't these are private companies owned by billionaires they can set whatever standards they want number one number two there's no evidence that there's any bias in anyway but there is evidence of his abuse of people of people getting abused by by the way on all sides and that's really the problem here is the ability to allow toxicity in lies to continue and that's something a private company should be dealing with but not legislated by the government there is there are certain things you can do and liabilities and things like that that media companies have had dealt with for for a very long time and so there's all kinds of solutions that are possible but I think the really problematic thing is considering these places to be the public square did you can do anything on me what do you think should happen here well I completely agree that there is no place for government regulation here that is a path to a very dangerous place but social media companies must take responsibility I applaud Twitter for actually making an effort here even though I think the path they're choosing is very difficult I was very disappointed in mark Zuckerberg's statements on fox news of all places saying that they don't want to be quote unquote the arbiters of truth they already are algorithms serve certain truths even if they're not human intervention involved they are going to have to I think eventually take some action the oversight board is a step but it's it's not enough we are in a moment now where these divisions have come to the fore we know for a fact that sometimes these mechanisms are used to kind of organize protest organized too really it globally certainly it is the case that they've been used both by people who are trying to find ways to resist government oppression but they've also been used by governments to advance oppressive mechanisms right so do they have a role here to play right now that you think would be constructive and I guess I'll start with you Kerr Swisher yeah absolutely they've been doing a very good job on cove in nineteen information they've been stamping out all kinds of bad health information except for president trump's they took down a bowl scenario they took down Maduro they took down a lot of stuff there and a lot of other stuff so during cove and it shows all of them Facebook Twitter all of them can do it and they can do it well and there was no controversy about that so they're totally capable but they're also capable of creating commonality look at all of the really wonderful stuff from Sarah Cooper to comics to people making jokes that can be used for commonality in a really positive way it's just they're designed towards in rage meant and that's the engagement is designed towards arrangement and that's

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