Leading journalists and editors around the world have some advice for social media companies: there needs to be more censorship.
In a 2020 report released by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 233 people from 32 countries, including the United States, complained about misinformation in tech and where it stands in relation to journalism. “It’s grim out there,” said one unnamed “Leading US Publisher.” This attitude extended to social media companies. Seventeen percent of those polled approved of Facebook’s attempts to remove misinformation and disinformation from the platform.
YouTube came in second-to-last place with an 18 percent approval rating, while Google was given a 34 percent approval rating. Twitter had a 41 percent approval rating because the platform had completely banned ads from politicians.
The report predictions were dire. In elections, “The role of platforms will be increasingly politicised, with direct attacks and accusations of bias from prominent politicians.” Misinformation and disinformation will be spread in this era of “Post-Truth Politics.” But journalists aren’t simply blaming politicians for this: tech platforms are also at fault, according to the report.
Swiss strategy expert from the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation Vinzenz Schmid was quoted as saying, “Most platforms still hold the position ‘if it’s not criminal, it’s free speech’, which is unacceptable. Once more, they take the money, and leave the costly work (fact-checking, counter-arguing, etc.) to journalists from media outlets.”
Regulations from the European Union in the past year have threatened to globally erase content which broke the laws of one country.
Journalists were also asked to rate the major social media and tech companies in terms of how much these companies support journalism. The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has received a grant from Google for the past five years. Google gave the Institute £8.47 million.
The study released found that 60 percent of journalists surveyed gave Google a score of average or higher when it came to supporting journalism, making it the highest-rated out of the tech companies. Thirty-three percent rated Twitter average or higher, while 26 percent rated Apple average or higher. The study noted that Google was highly rated because of the “large number of publishers in our survey who are current or past recipients of Google’s innovation funds.”
Facebook (25 percent), Snapchat (12 percent), and Amazon (7 percent) only received an average or higher rating from 25 percent or less of the journalists surveyed.
Other key points from the survey included the journalists rating themselves on racial diversity. Only 33 percent believed that they were doing a good job with racial diversity. One of the solutions offered in the report was software that could help “measure diversity.”