Current Platforms’ Attempts to Curb Misinformation

In the wake of recent events, Spotify is one of the newest platforms looking to take a stand against misinformation. There has been a lot of talk about the Joe Rogan podcast and all of the awful misinformation he spreads and how terrible of a human being is. Besides being racist, homophobic, transphobic, and misogynistic, he also is not a believer in Covid-19, masks, vaccines, the whole nine. While he is not the only one, he is the biggest one on the platform and has caused a large debate on social media sites like Twitter. His “content” did catch the attention of Spotify founder Daniel Ek and his team. Over 100 episodes of Joe Rogan’s podcast have been removed for spreading false information and using awful language such as racial slurs. This also sparked a change in the platforms guidelines on the topic of Covid. As of Saturday, January 30, Ek and Spotify released their new rules and guidelines that include a content advisory with anything relating to the virus, and new ways to inform and give awareness to creators on the dangers of the content they decide to share. However, despite some slight effort, many Spotify users and people in general are not happy with this. The argument is that these rules are not specific enough and are basically just saying “hey this podcast talks about Covid, be careful what you listen to!” rather than actually stating “this podcast contains misinformation”. Specifically in regards to Joe Rogan, and especially amongst the communities he disrespects, they are very unhappy with Spotify as they are still allowing him to spew these awful things and pay him his $100 million contract rather than take a stand against harmful content. It is almost as if Ek is defending Rogan and taking profit over integrity. Immediately I’d suggest Spotify to just be clear and direct with their disclaimers. If something is complete bull- then say that, let your users know that they are listening to nonsense rather than allowing people to support certain people and their content.

The next platform I chose was Twitter. Twitter is probably the easiest platform to find misinformation. You can almost type in any topic in the world, and you will see something ridiculous, certain topics you can almost argue are about 50/50 with what’s real and what’s not. I feel like Twitter is definitely the toughest social media site to create effective guidelines to combat misinformation just with the amount of freedom there is on the app. About a year ago, Twitter unveiled their new system called “Birdwatch” that gave users the power to flag and report misleading or just incorrect information. This was definitely a good start for Twitter by giving us users the power to help out and flag tweets because there could be hundreds of thousands if not millions of tweets a day from all over the world about all sorts of things. However, this could backfire slightly as those who believe in the side of misinformation and those ideals, could use this feature to flag things they don’t agree with despite being true. Of course, Twitter should be able to see that good content is being flagged and will dismiss the report, but it still slows down the entire process of removing the bad things. Where Twitter has not been shy and has done a great job is being transparent about content no matter who it is tweeting. For example, when Donald Trump was throwing a fit about the 2020 election, Twitter had disclaimers stating that there was false information being spread by him and they ended up outright suspending and eventually banning him from the site as his rhetoric became too harmful.

On Twitter’s help center they have an entire page stating the details of their policies on misinformation such as what will and will not get you flagged, how to report it, and the consequences of not following these rules. There are not a ton of ways I’d say that Twitter can improve on their efforts because I really think they do the best job in giving users the tools to report misinformation and they have made the biggest effort. However, one way I think they can take things one step further would be to not even allow tweets to be posted that directly go against their guidelines. Rather than allowing these tweets to go up and get reported and eventually removed, just completely prevent these from going up on the site. Perhaps even, if there are repeat offenders, after the second time they could receive a suspension and a third time could result in a ban from the site.

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