Social Media Platforms, Content Moderation, and Who Watches the Watchers?
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have become critical fora for personal, political, and cultural expression. But they remain private-owned online service providers and the early “wild West” of self-expression on social media is now increasingly subject to “content moderation” – corporate-established mechanisms determining what speech will and will not be permitted as well as what communications will otherwise be curated with competing and compensatory messages. Twitter has flagged tweets by President Trump it considers inaccurate – and linked them to “fact check” information; Instagram bans images of self-harm and self-abuse; and Facebook has a wide range of community standards enforced by algorithms, a vast corps of human reviewers, and an appellate process for when it removes posts. These days many things a speaker might say (or show) in a TED Talk could be banned from posting on social media platforms.