Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Survey: Americans think internet media help inform people, but should be more regulated, less filtered

Just a few days after Alex Jones' ouster from most social media platforms, the Knight Foundation and Gallup teamed up to dig into Americans' attitudes about the media's role as content gatekeepers.

"For the survey, 'Major Internet Companies as News Editors,' Knight and Gallup asked more than 2,000 U.S. adults for their opinions on whether the platforms are doing a good job of delivering the news, whether they need to change, and if so, how," Mathew Ingram reports for Columbia Journalism Review. "The good news is that more than half of those surveyed said they believe internet companies in general help people become better informed about the world around them. The bad news is that about 85 percent feel the platforms aren’t doing enough to stop the spread of misinformation."

Respondents worried that platforms needed to stop fake news, but more than 60 percent said they were concerned that removing any content from news feeds gives people a biased picture of the news and restricts the expression of some viewpoints, and 80 percent said internet platforms should show all users the same news information without filtering it.

"Then there’s the real kicker: Almost 80 percent of those who responded to the survey said they believe internet companies should be regulated like traditional media—although it’s not clear exactly what they meant by this," Ingram reports. "Newspapers aren’t subject to a lot of regulation about what kind of content they can publish, apart from obscenity rules. Broadcasters are regulated and licensed by the FCC, but in general, the mainstream press are free to publish misinformation in much the same way that Facebook is, with one very important difference: They can be sued for slander or defamation, and Facebook can’t." Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects internet platforms from such lawsuits.

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