Social Media Bans: SMC 1(14)

Social Media Communication in the News: Real-Time Classroom Discussion Starters

Social Media Bans and the First Amendment

The violence following a Kenosha, Wisconsin police shooting brought focus on anti-government groups that use encryption and social media messaging to organize extremist speech. Some extremist political movements have used large private Facebook groups. When the social media company banned some of these, they migrated to other platforms and returned to Facebook by using "innocuous sounding names," the Associated Press reports.

A computer science profess quoted in the new story suggested that social media are too large to police with relatively small company resources used in the content regulation efforts. Social media sites are slow to respond in the fight against hate groups.

Meanwhile, new public opinion data suggest that there is a growing partisan political divide over fundamental U.S. First Amendment rights, including peaceful protest. Significantly, Republicans who support that, "people are free to peacefully protest," appear to be declining since 2018, while Democrats are unchanged, the Pew Research Center reports. Larger percentages of Democrats are closer to the U.S. Supreme Court case law precedent that limits government censorship and attempts to stop legal protests.

PBS NewsHour reported that spontaneous protests driven by social media use make it difficult for police to ban militia groups from real-time activism.

Question: Why or why not do you support that right of peaceful protest? Why or why not should Facebook be allowed to ban free speech that advocates violence?

#SMC2021 In-Brief
  • The sale of U.S. TikTok operations was complicated by Chinese export restrictions over artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. News reports suggested that China responded to President Donald Trump's order to sell by September 20 or be closed.
  • Australian publishers could be blocked by Facebook after the country moved to require payment for content. It was not clear how much Facebook could be forced to pay, and the social media giant seems willing to instead filter content on the news feed.
  • A tweet announcing the death of actor Chadwick Boseman became the most liked ever on the site, CNN reported. "Most liked Tweet ever. A tribute fit for a King. #WakandaForever."

ICYMI: Facebook Pivots To Labels and Simplicty
The #Election2020, #Covid-19 and calls for criminal justice reform have marked social and economic upheaval this year. In this context, social media giant Facebook is among sites fighting back against misinformation and disinformation with new labels. The Associated Press reported this week that U.S. posts about voting may be followed by "an addendum to their messages -- labels directing readers to authoritative information about the upcoming presidential election." Voting by mail has become a hotly contested policy issue within social media spaces. Facebook also is banning "implicit hate speech," blackface posts and anti-Semitic use of "stereotypes," Business Insider reported. Civil rights groups have claimed that Facebook is a platform for "the spread of hate speech and misinformation."
At the same time, Facebook has announced that more than 1,000 targeted advertising tool options are being removed to simplify paid and promoted posts, Social Media Today reported: "As part of our latest efforts to simplify and streamline our targeting options, we’ve identified cases where advertisers - of all sizes and industries - rarely use various targeting options. Infrequent use may be because some of the targeting options are redundant with others or because they’re too granular to really be useful. So we’re removing some of these options."

On yet another front, Facebook said that Covid-19 made it more difficult this year to remove harmful content. The AP reported that, "Sending its content moderators to work from home in March amid the pandemic led the company to remove less harmful material from Facebook and Instagram around suicide, self-injury, child nudity and sexual exploitation."Facebook used more content and less technology to monitor posts.

Question: How could Facebook improve its news feed to better meet your needs as a user during this election year and global pandemic?

SMC news is curated for Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics, third edition (2021).

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