Tech

Should digital giants be subject to the same standards as media firms?

Should digital giants be subject to the same regulatory standards as media firms to combat fake news?

Sue Todd, chief executive of Magnetic, the trade body for magazine media, says YES.

The rise of fake news has undoubtedly brought a core strength of established publishers to light – which is the trust they elicit in their audiences. We found in our own research that 70 per cent of audiences trusted established titles, such as magazines, whereas only 30 per cent of respondents said they trusted social media.

This trust is not serendipitous. It is earned. Publishers work under tight editorial control and independent regulators like IPSO strive to ensure that all published content is of the requisite quality – and this quality is maintained whether the content exists in print or online. This guidance builds an environment that is not only beneficial to audiences, but to brands and advertisers too.

Ultimately, media companies and their audiences benefit from conforming to proper standards. If the digital giants truly want to win back the trust of their audiences and the industry, then they must work to higher standards.

Read more: DEBATE: Will the EU copyright reform break the internet?

Leon Emirali, media entrepreneur and investor, says NO.

The beauty of social media is that it relies on user-generated content to give a voice to the otherwise voiceless. The huge benefits this brings would be dangerously stifled by over-regulation.

Digital giants such as Facebook and Twitter have never professed to be news outlets; they are designed to be forums for sharing opinions and creativity. Instead, the focus needs to be on educating individuals on how they should interact with content online and to question the veracity and accuracy of what they consume.

There are too many grey areas concerning “fake news”, and any state-enforced regulation around what can and cannot be posted on social media is dangerous territory. Politicians see tech companies as easy targets, and supposed efforts to protect the public will be counterproductive if they result in regulation and censorship.

“Fake news” online is a new phenomenon that we need to take time to understand. I fear politicians will act in haste which will leave society worse-off as a result.

Read more: Facebook has yet to convince MPs in its response to Cambridge Analytica

Original Article

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