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Friday, April 26, 2019

Social media giants no longer can avoid moral compass

Don Hepburn
thehill.com
Originally published April 1, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

There are genuine moral, legal and technical dilemmas in addressing the challenges raised by the ubiquitous nature of the not-so-new social media conglomerates. Why, then, are social media giants avoiding the moral compass, evading legal guidelines and ignoring technical solutions available to them? The answer is, their corporate culture refuses to be held accountable to the same standards the public has applied to all other global corporations for the past five decades.

A wholesale change of culture and leadership is required within the social media industry. The culture of “everything goes” because “we are the future” needs to be more than tweaked; it must come to an end. Like any large conglomerate, social media platforms cannot ignore the public’s demand that they act with some semblance of responsibility. Just like the early stages of the U.S. coal, oil and chemical industries, the social media industry is impacting not only our physical environment but the social good and public safety. No serious journalism organization would ever allow a stranger to write their own hate-filled stories (with photos) for their newspaper’s daily headline — that’s why there’s a position called editor-in-chief.

If social media giants insist they are open platforms, then anyone can purposefully exploit them for good or evil. But if social media platforms demonstrate no moral or ethical standards, they should be subject to some form of government regulation. We have regulatory environments where we see the need to protect the public good against the need for profit-driven enterprises; why should social media platforms be given preferential treatment?

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