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Should Facebook (and other Social Media platforms) ban world leaders?

Summary:
Courtney C. Radsch, former advocacy director at the Committee to Protect Journalists in this Proj Syndicate piece does not mince words. She says Facebook should ban more world leaders just as it has done for Trump. Like it or not, Facebook wields tremendous power. In many countries, it is one of the few alternatives to the government-aligned outlets that dominate national media ecosystems. For users, it is often synonymous with the internet. That is why authorities have devoted so many resources to manipulating it, and why Facebook must take responsibility for stopping them. To be sure, regulators also have a role to play. But, so far, their approach has been deeply flawed. Some – including in Florida, Texas, and Poland – have been pushing in the opposite direction, seeking to

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Courtney C. Radsch, former advocacy director at the Committee to Protect Journalists in this Proj Syndicate piece does not mince words. She says Facebook should ban more world leaders just as it has done for Trump.

Like it or not, Facebook wields tremendous power. In many countries, it is one of the few alternatives to the government-aligned outlets that dominate national media ecosystems. For users, it is often synonymous with the internet. That is why authorities have devoted so many resources to manipulating it, and why Facebook must take responsibility for stopping them.

To be sure, regulators also have a role to play. But, so far, their approach has been deeply flawed. Some – including in Florida, Texas, and Poland – have been pushing in the opposite direction, seeking to prohibit social-media platforms from removing content or accounts that are not illegal. Regulators in the US and the European Union are considering whether some elements of the internet should be treated essentially as public utilities or “common carriers.” But, overall, regulators need to focus less on content and more on platform design, advertising technology, and monopolistic power.

In the meantime, it is up to Facebook to rid itself of genocidal militaries, government propaganda that targets and manipulates populations, and leaders who block users. The algorithmic intermediation of the public sphere by private, for-profit platforms designed to maximize engagement and polarization has been anything but emancipatory. For many, it has been deadly. Governments, public officials, and political parties must face swift and severe consequences if they violate a platform’s terms of service and use it to violate people’s rights.

Amol Agrawal
I am currently pursuing my PhD in economics. I have work-ex of nearly 10 years with most of those years spent figuring economic research in Mumbai’s financial sector.

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