Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Incentivize Social Media to Starve Disinformation, Not Promote It

Connect the dots:
  • The reports of social media enabling disinformation, evading responsibility.*
  • The problem of motivated reasoning.*
Social media will not manage disinformation effectively until they no longer profit from it. We are trying to stop the tide of disinformation, when all we can do is limit its spread and impact. Tides cannot be stopped, but they can be managed -- if the managers are motivated to do so.

Follow the money. It is well established that
  • Social media are optimized for engagement, so they can sell ads.
  • Disinformation enhances engagement.
  • Therefore, social media profit from enabling disinformation to spread; they lose money by limiting harmful engagement.
The only systemic solution is to change their incentives: their salary (and stock value) must depend on revenue from users, not advertisers.

That may seem impractical, given where we are now, but there are powerful tools for changing that:
An Open Letter to Influencers Concerned About Facebook and Other Platforms
(*Quoting Congressional report, as reported in NY Times, and Sinclair Lewis)


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