Joined: 16 May 2007
Ethical standards in the online world are lower than in real life and as such need to be monitored
Telling the truth online is a matter of personal responsibility and not a job for machines
The argument for
Following recent media announcements, we are now becoming aware that there are people developing tools to monitor the truth of online statements. But the first thing we need to discuss is whether this is scientifically possible to the degree where it could be implemented to any great effect. How do you triangulate information early enough and piece it together well enough to come up with a machine that can definitively recognise 'the truth'?When you think about the notion of 'proxies for truth' it's worth remembering that in the United States of America we have been using the polygraph lie detector for decades, and yet only around a quarter of states accept the technology as reliable. Also, we have to ask whether people will accept the standard of such a technology, along with the basic question: what will this technology look like?
The argument against
Is the development of technology to determine the truth of social media statements a good thing? Well it all depends on whether you think that social media is about truth in the first place. Personally, I don't think that this is necessarily what it was developed for. But more importantly, the first idea that emerges from the notion that we'll have the veracity of our statements monitored by a machine is that it takes away our responsibility to do what all good journalists have hammered into them: we must do our own fact checking. As a journalist I take this very seriously: you have to be certain that what you put online, or into print, is correct. Social media users tend not to worry about this quite so much. And what this means is that you can sometimes get some really hot scoops on Twitter, for example. I found out that Michael Jackson had died on social media, although that was covered pretty much everywhere. But, on the same day I also discovered that the actor Jeff Goldblum had died. Apparently, Jeff Goldblum discovered the same thing too, and he was understandably quite upset about it, and this led to him having to make a frantic round of phonecalls to tell relatives that he was okay, and was not in fact, as had been reported, dead. For basic facts such as this, a facility that monitors the truth of your statements could be valuable.
Joined: 10 October 2007
Interesting you mention the USA use of the polygraph on the day it is reported in the states that a man was released from death row after 26 years of a miscarriage of justice. We have just had a financial crisis due to a lot of dodgy deals and we have had rigging scandals, MP's fiddling expenses scandals, wars based on dodgy information, hacking scandals etc.
I think social media is just a reflection of the values and ethics within society and if we want to undertake more monitoring then start monitoring those who make the laws, MP's, PM's, banks, payday loan lenders, media who fabricate stories, etc., where the real damage has been done.
Adults and children see low standards elsewhere and see those with power, privilege and wealth get well rewarded for those low standards, or else do not see them sanctioned, and so simply drop their own standards.
As for Geoff Goldblum, well he gets well paid making make believe and courting publicity in order to carry out his trade and so if because his name is in the public domain other errors happen occasionally then that is a part of life. Maybe he should be more concerned, along with his colleagues, about the level of violence which is casually portrayed in the film world. Of course hacking the hell out of one person after another and then insulting people left right and centre in these films has zero affect on what happens in social media.
Joined: 21 March 2004
Although it a creditable aim, no one should believe that it's possible to filter social media for the truth, or to remove antisocial media.
Firstly, the 'truth' is rarely certain, and often only known sometime after the event. Social media is immediate - that's what makes it popular. News posted on social media is initially uncorroborated, so may not be true, but should it be withheld? Even 'certain' information is found to be wrong weeks later - remember 'weapons of mass destruction'? Are posted stating 'there are no 'weapons of mass destruction' to be censored, sorry, filtered.
Secondly, antisocial behaviour is not just limited to social media. To me many of the Daily Mail's headlines are anti-social, but I would prefer that they be challenged, not censored.
The solution is to treat social media with caution and use other media to check for the 'truth', and to educate people that social media can be a bear pit - and to participate with caution.
As with any safety 'system' people tend to overly on it to the point where they are more venerable when it fails (or they failed to use it correctly). So educating people is the solution. As someone once said The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it...