Much At Stake For Facebook And Twitter In The Presidential Elections | WABNEWS

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – The internet giants Twitter, Facebook and Google appear to be enforcing their policies more harshly in the weeks leading up to the US presidential election. That has put them on the path to a confrontation with Republicans, who complain about companies for allegedly making biased decisions to restrict conservative political discourse. Twitter, where President Donald Trump has more than 87 million followers, has recently placed warning labels on some of the president’s tweets on topics such as the coronavirus and voting by mail. Facebook’s independent oversight board to start in October Responding to criticism from those who claim that Facebook is not doing enough to control offensive or aggressive content from some users, the platform announced that its anticipated independent oversight board will begin work in October, at time for the November 3 elections. Last week, Twitter temporarily blocked a Trump campaign tweet for an article about his Democratic rival, Joe Biden; Facebook also took steps to prevent the article from being republished. Over the weekend, Twitter blocked a post by Scott Atlas, a special adviser to the president, who on Twitter questioned the effectiveness of orders to wear masks. The companies are also cracking down on another type of speech: YouTube, which is owned by Google, and Tik Tok have restricted posts about the QAnon organization’s conspiracy theories. Facebook for its part said it would remove any content that denies the Jewish Holocaust. Facebook will suspend new political ads from October 27 until Election Day. Google said it would limit the way political ads can be targeted. Twitter, last year, announced that it would not accept political ads. Why are these companies taking these measures now? Experts say that Facebook and Twitter, in particular, are under pressure to better monitor misinformation than they did in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election. like the Super Bowl of disinformation, ”said Lisa Kaplan, CEO of the Alethea Group, which consults with companies and organizations on disinformation. “It is a big event.” Not long ago, internet companies let their users, and advertisers, talk without much interference. After the 2016 election, they were criticized for not doing enough to stop misinformation on their services, including letting foreign-sponsored networks run social media influence campaigns. Some criticize companies for doing too little, too late, to stem the flow of disinformation on their sites. Facebook bans groups linked to QAnon, even if they do not promote violence Faceboook, which has been accused of not doing enough to combat misinformation on its networks, has taken a strong stance against accounts linked to QAnon, a group of conspiracy theories. Now it says that it will close all its pages, groups on Facebook or Instagram. Companies “need to accept that they have to be the ones to deal with these issues,” instead of being “the ones who empowered others to act like they used to,” said Ann Ravel, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. Ravel, a Democrat, is running for office in the California state senate. Others criticize companies for making decisions that they consider biased, affecting conservative discourse in a way that they believe could affect the outcome of the elections. Republican senators have asked the presidents of Twitter and Facebook to testify about their policies. Trump’s aide Mark Meadows told “Fox and Friends” Monday that internet companies are biased against conservatives and could be subject to lawsuits. But it’s not just a few Republicans who are frustrated. Lawmakers from both parties are considering changing laws that say companies are not responsible for the language other people post on their sites. Remove that protection and the companies will be destroyed, said Ken Paulson, director of the Center for Freedom of Expression at Middle Tennessee University. “Either you have a very small service,” he said, “or you will have to risk having content that is disruptive, confusing, and misinformed. You then have two options. Congress can’t do much more than destroy Twitter and Facebook. ” The stakes are high for internet companies as the elections approach in order to prove that they are good stewards of the powerful services they built.



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