Accounts on sites owned by the likes of Google, Facebook, twitter and YouTube have been used to promote violent attacks and recruit people to terrorist activities around the world. But are they responsible for shutting down these types of sites on their platform?
Graphic images, threats of violence and racial content have been found online for days or even weeks, before these technology giants have removed the content.
But how do technology giants control the type of content being distributed while remaining open, free speech platforms. Facebook, Google, twitter and YouTube continue to accept funding from terrorist organisations who run sophisticated social media marketing campaigns. Yet, these technology giants claim that they are unable to monitor all of the content on their sites and therefore are not responsible.
The products that these companies have built, were to open communication, lower barriers and empower people or so their slogans would have us believe. "Don't be evil" is a motto used within Google's corporate code of conduct. “It’s what happening” is the slogan used by Twitter. “Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you.” But for all the good intentions these platforms do promote, the reality is, there is an amount of inappropriate, corrupt, offensive, malicious and disingenuous usage, which needs to be addressed.
In South Australia, the Supreme Court has found that Google is legally responsible when its search results link to defamatory content on the web. Dr Janice Duffy has been trying for more than six year to clear her name and remove links to defamatory material when people search for her using Google. Although Dr Duffy won her case, the law doesn’t include immunity from criminal law, intellectual property law or privacy law.
Back in September 2017, Google, Facebook and Twitter were hauled in front of world leaders and given a month to take down terrorist websites within two hours or face heavy fines. Theresa May, the Prime Minister for the United Kingdom, had advised the technology giants, they need to “go further and faster” to stop the spread of terrorist material on their platforms. Official figures show that 54,000 different websites containing advise on bomb making, committing attacks using trucks and knives were posted online by supporters of the IS group.
More recently the Cambridge Analytica executives, including the CEO, Alexander Nix, were caught on camera suggesting that the firm could use sex workers, bribes and misinformation “fake” news in order to try and help political candidates win votes around the world. Eighty Seven (87) million Facebook profiles were minded for data. The data was used to influence choices in the recent US Presidential elections. Pro-Trump material was delivered to individuals who were undecided, didn’t plan to vote and or supporters of Hillary Clinton.
Cambridge Analytica was hired by Donald Trump in 2016
Although Mark Zuckerberg has had to testify before US congress, explaining how the social media giant allowed this data breach to occur and how it will protect its users going forward, we know that this will not be the last time, individual data collected by Facebook, Google and alike will be used to manipulate and deceive.
Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. The basic codes and cannons commonly appear in statements drafted by both professional journalism association and print, broadcast and online new organisations. This professional integrity appears to be missing from Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, who believe that they are outside regulatory requirements.
Whether you are for or against, we need to ensure that our news and current affairs is factually, morally and ethically correct.
MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics - Respect for truth and the public’s right to information are fundamental principles of journalism. Journalists search, disclose, record, question, entertain, comment and remember. They inform citizens and animate democracy. They scrutinise power, but also exercise it, and should be responsible and accountable.
MEAA members engaged in journalism commit themselves to:
- Respect for the rights of others