Accuracy in Media

Of course conversations on Facebook should be moderated, censored – so say the civil society groups that would be hired by Facebook to do the moderating.

It’s that last part that The Intercept fails to tell us in its report on the subject.

“In a statement signed by 31 civil society and human rights groups, this criticism is directed squarely at American internet titans like Facebook,” according to the article.

It doesn’t really matter what the criticism is – it’s that an American company like Facebook tends to edit according to American ideas of what should be edited – it’s the source that should make us wary. For that source is that group of civil society groups who say that the moderation should be done this way: “Meaningful due diligence requires reviews by independent entities that are not dependent upon platforms for their revenue.”

At this point, it’s possible to see what the demand really is — or what the business model is. Facebook must allow outsiders, over whom it has no control, to edit and moderate Facebook. What people may say, about what and when, is to be handed over to “civil society”. Then, and here’s the cute trick, those civil society groups get to go fundraise as they’re doing that real important job of censoring – sorry, moderating – Facebook.

It’s a great gig if you can get it.

The Intercept is set up from Pierre Omidyar’s eBay earnings. It’s entirely independent and seems to be controlled by a self-perpetuating group as a result. That could be fine of course, it depends on the views of that group. It gains some 4 million visits a month as it does so.

The problem here is that we’ve one part of civil society demanding that more power be granted to another part of civil society. Or, as we could put it, people with no control from shareholders, customers or anyone else, demanding that more power be handed over to people with no control from shareholders, customers or anyone else. Which is, even as they call for more transparency, a pretty good retreat of power into unaccountable hands really.

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