Threads Needs To Be Regulated. Being “Brand Safe” is good, but isn’t enough

Here’s my bold statement for 2023:
Social media companies in the United States need to be regulated.

Before you start agreeing and explain why it’ll never happen… you should know Meta didn’t launch Threads in the EU. Because of the EU’s REGULATION. It would have led to massive NEW fines and Meta doesn’t want MORE massive fines. It was recently hit with an order to stop sending EU users data to the US for processing and was fined almost $1.3BN for breaching the GDPR’s requirements on data export.

When companies’ actions or inactions harm the public, the public demands something be done. In the EU they’ve recognized the harm being done by social media companies and enacted regulation. Short term, companies pay the fine and change their behavior to stop new fines. This is what we want, what the public deserves. Protection from harm.

Here’s a good piece by Natasha Lomas’ in Tech Cruch that spells out Meta’s current privacy problems and reminds us of the General Data Protection Regulation, the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act. Some regulations are currently in effect others are coming on August 25, 2023.

Meta’s Threads app is a privacy nightmare that won’t launch in EU yet,
TechCrunch July 5, 5th 2023

Here’s the deal, regulations force companies to change their behaviors. If they don’t, they pay a fine. Big fines gets their attention AND, if they are a public company, it gets the attention of the big shareholders who say “Stop the bleeding! Keep that quarterly revenue growing or we will punish you!”

I want companies to take action on threats of violence and hate speech. Meta has already defined what they consider a threat and hate speech and have said what they will do about them. I’m the nerd who read ALL of Meta’s / Instagram’s /Thread’s Terms of Use. and Community Guidelines . Check this part out:

“We remove content that contains credible threats or hate speech, content that targets private individuals to degrade or shame them, personal information meant to blackmail or harass someone, and repeated unwanted messages. violence, deadly disinformation and hate speech.”

Threads Community Guidelines on threats under Meta/Instagram

The good news is that it appears that Meta is trying to moderate the content on Threads. Read this great Media Matters piece pointing out the methods used by RWNJs & Nazis to test the moderation AND the rhetoric deployed to avoid regulation.

[They ] have posted about the limits of its moderation, while also questioning whether Meta will “censor” them — which is a false claim that right-wing media and figures frequently employ against social media platforms with moderation policies.

Meta wants Threads to be #BrandSafe, so they can get advertising revenue, but they get revenue from other ways, like collecting data on people. And, because Meta is so big, they can run Threads without ads for YEARS if they want while Nazis’ & extremists work the system.

Taylor Hatmaker did a GREAT analysis of Threads in TechCrunch

“The brands just need a Twitter-like experience stocked with users that they can point their delirious social media managers to. Their champion has arrived.”

And it’s not as if Meta has a great track record with Instagram. From the Media Matters piece.

In the last year, Meta, along with other major social media platforms, has noticeably deprioritized its content moderation and user safety practices. Instagram specifically has a long history of allowing hate speech and misinformation to prosper on the app, including permitting virulently anti-LGBTQ accountsfar-right extremistsand right-wing advertisers to post false and harmful rhetoric. 

Instagram has also failed to adequately moderate many aspects of its platform, with users easily sidestepping moderation with story features, the “link-in-bio loophole,” commerce functions, and comments sections

What kind of misinformation? Deadly vaccine misinformation. I spoke to Matt Binder about how RFK Jr. was the 2nd biggest spreader of disinformation , according to a report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

Back in 2021, the tech companies told Congress that they would deplatform the 12 biggest spreaders of disinformation on vaccines, but one month later 9 of the 12 were still posting. Including RFK Jr on Facebook. This was BEFORE he announced his run for President, which puts him in the “newsworthy” category. BUT even that category has rules for violations of their policies.

Remember when Meta made special “guardrails” for Donald Trump for when he returned to Facebook? If he violates them he MIGHT be banned again! For a month. Multiple violations maybe another 2 years!

What Meta DOESN’T have is outside punishments for failing to uphold its own policies.
At least Meta is trying. But what about Musk’s Twitter, or Trump’s Truth Social? Rumble or Gab? They don’t care about profit from advertisers. They don’t have shareholders screaming at them for losing money to force content moderation on them.

Trump posted Obama’s address on Truth Social. Taylor Tranto then showed up at Obama’s address

Did you know that Truth Social has Terms of Service? Here are a few:

  • your Contributions are not obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, violent, harassing, libelous, slanderous, or otherwise objectionable.
  • your Contributions do not depict violence, threats of violence or criminal activity.
  • your Contributions do not advocate or incite, encourage, or threaten physical harm against another.
  • your Contributions do not violate any applicable law, regulation, or rule.
  • your Contributions do not violate the privacy or publicity rights of any third party.

If you’ve read Trump’s posts there you can spot the violations.

Truth Social says, “Any use of the Service in violation of the foregoing violates these Terms of Service and may result in, among other things, termination or suspension of your rights to use the Service and removal or deletion of your Contributions.”
But they don’t HAVE TO do anything.

Trump remains an extreme danger to others. When will law enforcement take appropriate measures to hold him accountable?

Glenn Kirschner did a podcast this weekend making the case that Trump should be in jail. He makes an excellent argument. He used specific examples and his history as a prosecutor of dangerous individuals.

Trump’s statements on Truth Social provide evidence to support why Trump should be in jail. Some of Trump’s posts SHOULD get him suspended from Truth Social. AND, if he posted them natively on other platforms like Threads, should get him banned from posting there too. TFG posts threats on Truth Social knowing that management ( Devin Nunes!) won’t suspend his rights to post, even when they violate Truth Socials own Terms of Service. When Trump’s threats gets reposted on other platform with added context, it’s news. But too often there IS no added context. It’s often just a straight up repeating of the threats and disinformation verbatim.

So what are we going to do about the need for regulation on social media? In America we know how money rules, but we can’t count on “The Market” alone to stop companies from enabling the spread of threats of violence, deadly disinformation and hate speech.

Musk’s Twitter is NOT brand safe, is losing money, has welcomed Nazi supporters, allows and encourages attacks on trans people, and because there is no outside regulation, it keeps going.

Will Meta enforce their own policies? If they don’t, how do we pressure them to be enforced? Do like the EU did and pass regulation! While it’s NOT happening we need to tell the stories of violence, incitement & hate speech coming from RWNJs that are being left up to spread. Show the harm that is being caused because of it. File lawsuits. Work on legislation in the US. Point out that it exists in the EU. Learn from them. It’s not an impossible task.

Companies make decisions every day about who is protected and supported by their products and services. Part of the role of government is to step in and stop the entities that are causing harm to the public.

Oh, btw I did join Threads so I could report violations of their community guidelines…
Cross posted to Digby’s Hullabloo

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