investor and former mentor to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Roger
McNamee says consumers should not be given the ability to decide what is
fake news, arguing that “leaving it to the audience to make those picks
is how we got here” during an event on free speech, “misinformation”,
and the need for transparency.
had a great thing, right, when he said you can’t solve a problem
using the same tools that got you into the problem in the first place,”
McNamee told the audience after Breitbart News asked his panel — “The
Effects of Information Bottlenecks: Propaganda, Misinformation,
Loss of Privacy” — why users shouldn’t be allowed to decide what fake
news is and whether the implication is users are too stupid.
problem with this whole thing is not that people are stupid, it is that
they’ve been taught to prefer sensation over substance. They’ve
been taught to favor trending over durable,” McNamee, managing director
of Elevation Partners, countered.
the panel’s discussion, however, McNamee emphasized his concern about
the “misplaced trust in technology” and the concentration of power “in
the hands of a few people.”
this whole question of fake news and the need for algorithms and
transparency, why not just let users decide what’s fake news on their
own? Is the implication that they’re too stupid otherwise?
here’s what the problem is: Facebook and Google are like [a] magician
doing a card trick. You pick your friends, you pick the links you link
on, and you think to yourself, ‘I have agency here’.
is not actually what’s going on. There are literally, at any moment in
time, a million things Facebook could put in your newsfeed that would
be appropriate. They pick the 20 designed — in their mind — to have
the highest probability of causing an outrage cycle, because outrage
is what gets you to be most engaged, to share the most, spend the most
time, and see the most ads.
Facebook’s strategy of getting rid of journalism in the newsfeed and
promoting groups and family and friends is based on this issue that
you trust what your friends send you.
problem with that trust is that the sources of the material that the
friends are sending, the quality of that, has collapsed, right, as
disinformation has replaced information economy.
we now know, thanks to MIT, that [content] spreads 70 percent further
and it goes six times as fast if its disinformation over real
problem with this whole thing is not that people are stupid, it is
that they’ve been taught to prefer sensation over substance.
They’ve been taught to favor trending over durable. And,
my simple observation on this is that leaving
it to the audience to make those picks is how we got here.
Einstein had a great thing, right, when he said you
can’t solve a problem using the same tools that got you into
the problem in the first place. [emphasis
Open Markets Institute, the event “Breaking the News: Free Speech &
Democracy in the age of Platform Monopoly” featured a number of keynote
speakers and panelists from the tech and journalism industries, as well
as politicians and legal experts.
the full panel discussion below:
Amanda House is Breitbart News’
Deputy Political Editor. You can follow her on Twitter at @AmandaLeeHouse and