Could a digital 'New Deal' rewrite tech policy?
At this point consumers, tech employees, even the CEOS of some big tech companies say there should be more regulation around privacy advertising and even disinformation. But what might that regulation look like the think tank? The German Marshall Fund is for an initiative called the digital new deal. It contains a bunch of policy proposals that would ideally create more transparency into how tech companies operate and questioned the incentives that pushed this information. Can Corn Blue is director of the Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative at the German Marshall Fund. So one of the specific proposals we have on that front is a circuit breaker that they have for high-speed trading on Wall Street where when things get too heated and are spreading too quickly the platforms have to take a pause and take a look and see if it violates our terms of service. They didn't do this with a video that was spreading conspiracy theories about how dangerous masks are who's spreading Cova. called. America's frontline doctors. It was seen by twenty million separate views on facebook before they realized they had to shut it down. That's interesting because you know. So much of this has been built on the idea that Barack. Is Good that something going by real as good and so you're saying that these platforms should start to change their thinking so that when something's going viral They are alarmed. Yeah I. Mean I think we've all taken another look at that word viral lately. Can Be bad and but viral viral can be good for platforms because it means that people are excited and they're staying online, and that means that the platforms can show you ads and that's how they make money. So they're incentives differ from our incentives, which is that we want to critically examined that piece of content that's coming across our desk before we share it with our unwitting grandmother may take action based on it. How what is the reception to the idea of this level of regulation? Obviously, the company's. Clear even from mark, Zuckerberg's interview just this week. that. They don't agree you know he talked about anthrax and that he doesn't want to suppress speech about vaccine skepticism. But if you look at social media messages urging Americans to re reject vaccines, it's tripled just since the pandemic has begun and again he's focused on the content and not enough on the systems. That create the opportunity for conspiracy theorists to play the algorithm or a bunch of groups to promote act anti vaccine, and that's because he doesn't. He doesn't have the incentive you know the car companies, they may have resisted seatbelts or airbags fuel-efficiency. But then once the policies were put in place, they turned on the innovation and they figured out how they could still make money but also keep people safe a lot of the time you know the pushback argument for not regulating social media platforms, for example, as free speech, but it's also based on this idea that like. Disinformation is just as old as time people people. You know that's what people do they argue or they try to convince each other in one direction or the other but it seems like increasingly we're realizing that the platforms themselves not only is there an incentive for them to serve this content? But they exist as an incentive to create it like there's money to be made influencers are selling March? Yeah. I'm so glad you asked that that's absolutely right and a lot of people miss that that if I'm if I have an outlet, one of these, we call them Trojan horse outlets that pretend to be news outlets better just repackaging old rumors and making them look like news or if you're one of these carnival barker pages that that tries to get people's attention on those outlets. if you get enough eyeballs the platforms serve up ads and you get some of that money if you're a youtube channel that spews out a lot of disinformation. So people come to you. You can wind up with revenue sharing from the platform. So absolutely, and then there are a bunch of people that flat out sell fraudulent products as part of this disinformation scheme. So they may say you know here's here's something that works better than a mask to cure Kovic and buy it here. Here's something that will get you rich quickly. So there is an entire financial. Ecosystem that supporting this disinformation. So in a way, it's not like the platforms. Just amplify and themselves profit from disinformation they create an incentive cycle. And of financial encouragement for people to create and spread disinformation. That's absolutely right and the one other thing that I would add to that I mean that's really true and the Federal Trade Commission has started to do work in this, but they could use a lot more expertise a lot more authority and a lot more resources to to go after this kind of activity and the other thing that I would say to add to your question about. Aren't people just going to spread rumors is that one of the things that makes the Internet more effective spreading rumors is this information laundering so that people don't know where the information is coming from. It looks like it's coming from a reputable news organization. It looks like it's coming from a neighbor because people aren't aware and the platforms aren't transparent enough. So. A big part of this could be handled with transparency, which is very free speech. Friendly. That's Karen Corn Blue With the German Marshall Fund think-tank.