The Facebook problem is public discernment, not data privacy

Our take on “The Facebook problem”, political manipulation and why fake news have nothing on data privacy. Where should we start fixing the problem.

 

It’s true, the fact that everyone shared their data triggered the misuse of said data, and this lead to misinformation in the disadvantage of the public. But blaming everything that happened next on bad data privacy regulations is like blaming the weather report when your yard gets flooded. What you should do is make a proper drain.

 

The truth is that no one wants to be private. This is why everyone is on a network, because we all want our data to not be private. We were private before social media and it wasn’t nice at all. This is what this new era is about: sharing. Along with the ease of access to resources for updating yourself.

 

This is what social networks do right now: they’re keeping everyone updated with everything at the same time. It’s a work previously done by the press, and it had rules. With the death of the press, though, and the rise of the social media, there is a visible lack of values and rules in creating and understanding all of this content.

During the previous era, lying, misdirecting and manipulating the public was equal to nullifying your input and presence in the field.  No journalist would have dreamed to jeopardize his position by circulating false events or lies. You were taught to be honest and report facts starting from journalism school. People grew up with these values, and with the fact that the press represented a power and had a meaning: to report the truth to the public. As media and journalism became corrupt and, basically, got sold to the highest bidder (with few exceptions), only social media was able to fill the information gap.

But the social media is represented by people like you and me, on social networks. Online journalism has no rules. And the readers – the people that need and consume this information – still take it as “reporting truth” and “journalism”.

Everyone needs to learn their place in this new setup. The previously called “press”, formerly known as the 4th power in the state”, is now represented by anyone passing anything or any fact as “true” or “false” on the net. These people – us – need to understand there are rules to what we can say it is true. And that the repercussions of failing to do so are pretty hardcore.

The others, the ones that read and inform themselves form the online, need to understand that right now – this medium is corrupt and misguided. Until some moral ground appears on the horizon, no one should confuse social media with journalism.

Of course, right now there are no actual or tangible repercussions to lying of misreporting – we should regulate that first, and then get to the GDPR regulations (not that we have anything against them).

So, before we start pointing fingers at Social Networks and blaming lax privacy regulations – how about we teach ourselves and everyone around us some journalism rules and values:

 

The Hutchins Commission press guidelines:

 

  1. “Present meaningful news, accurate and separated from opinion”. (Straubhaar, LaRose & Davenport, Pg 477)
  1. “Serve as a forum for the exchange of comment and criticism and to expand access to diverse points of view.” (Straubhaar, LaRose & Davenport, Pg 477)
  2. “Project “a representative picture of the constituent groups in society” by avoiding stereotypes by including minority groups.” (Straubhaar, LaRose & Davenport, Pg 477)
  3. “Clarify the goals and values of society; implicit was an appeal to avoid pandering to the lowest common denominator.” (Straubhaar, LaRose & Davenport, Pg 477)
  4. “Give broad coverage of what was known about society”. (Straubhaar, LaRose & Davenport, Pg 477)