Are platforms responsible for what is published? [read #youtube #facebook]

Are platforms such as youtube and Facebook (and others) responsible for the content that people publish on them?

For some time, these platforms have avoided such questions, taking the view that they are merely a platform and the content belongs to those who choose to create it. Kara Swisher, among others, has spoken out about Facebook’s recalcitrant attitude towards policing fake news in the past. However, things seem to be changing.

As 2018 and the flurry of New Years resolutions hit the airwaves, Mark Zuckerberg has said he will be thinking about these things …

Youtube has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons with the publication of a “suicide video” by Logan Paul, and the twitter storm that followed, where critics complained that Logan Paul himself, and Youtube as platform, simply had not done enough.

“There’s no excuse for what Paul did. His video was disturbing and offensive to the victim, their family, and to those who have struggled with mental illness. But blaming the YouTube star alone seems insufficient. Both he, and his equally famous brother Jake Paul, earn their living from YouTube, a platform that rewards creators for being outrageous, and often fails to adequately police its own content.

“I think that any analysis that continues to focus on these incidents at the level of the content creator is only really covering part of the structural issues at play,” says Sarah T. Roberts, an assistant professor of information studies at UCLA and an expert in internet culture and content moderation. “Of course YouTube is absolutely complicit in these kinds of things, in the sense that their entire economic model, their entire model for revenue creation is created fundamentally on people like Logan Paul.” Read more …