by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Google have grown to encompass duties to the public trust — duties that were never intended to be within their purview in the first place.
A temp worker claims that he “accidentally” deactivated President Trump’s Twitter account for eleven minutes. Facebook enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of “Jew hater,” “How to burn jews,” or, “History of ‘why jews ruin the world.’” Russian agents bought ads on Google and YouTube to spread disinformation. In response to complaints about hate and abuse, Twitter set up a ludicrously opaque and arbitrary “Trust and Safety Council” that responds pretty quickly to celebrity complaints but leaves other accounts spewing the vilest hate for months.
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Google were not built to differentiate accurate information from inaccurate information, to dispel and counteract hateful voices, or to sniff out and stop disinformation campaigns by foreign intelligence. Despite the hype, slogans, and perhaps even self-delusion, they were not built simply to create a better, more interconnected world.
They were built to make money. None were set up as nonprofits; everyone who works in those companies collects a salary, in many cases a big one with lots of benefits.