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It’s not just about Trump, it’s about content moderation standards

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Becka Bowyer

Meta will be reinstating former president Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks with what the company calls “new guardrails” to deter repeat offenses. The following Cornell University experts are available to discuss the news.

Alexandra Cirone

Assistant Professor in the Department of Government

Alexandra Cirone, assistant professor of government and expert on the spread of disinformation online, says Facebook is still struggling to contain extremism on its platforms.

Cirone says:

“Currently Truth Social is a failing company, whose competitive advantage is exclusive access to Trump; Trump returning to Facebook would damage Truth Social even further. But access to Facebook also means access to its digital advertising network, which has far more reach than Truth Social. If Trump is launching a 2024 presidential bid, access to hundreds of millions of Facebook users during the campaign would be a distinct advantage and might be worth it – if Trump can avoid being suspended again.

“Nick Clegg claims that the ‘serious risk to public safety’ that led to Trump’s suspension after the January 6 insurrection has ‘sufficiently receded,’ and that the company has new guardrails in place. But we’ve seen time and time again, most recently with the Facebook Files, that Facebook is struggling to contain extremism on its platforms or develop consistent standards for content moderation.”

Andy Zhao

Ph.D. Information Science

Andy Zhao, postdoctoral researcher, studies information manipulation, which includes censorship, propaganda, misinformation and fact checking. He says one of the most significant social challenges facing Americans today is that of how to effectively govern online content moderation.

Zhao says:

“The lack of consensus in our society on the issue of online content moderation has placed social media companies in a fidgeting position, as they are faced with the challenge of making decisions that are bound to be controversial. The problem is further compounded by the fact that legislators and policymakers have been slow to address this issue and have yet to take responsibility for one of our time's most significant social challenges. Such moderation decisions should not rest solely on the shoulders of a single company, but rather should be a collaborative effort involving the government, private corporations, and civil society.

“Trump is ephemeral. A more profound and essential issue is how to effectively govern the digital sphere, balancing the need to preserve personal freedom with the need to facilitate meaningful communication. Ultimately, the solution to this problem requires a fundamental shift in how we think about digital governance when new technologies actively disrupt old power structures. It is essential for society as a whole, not just for social media companies and government entities, to develop new norms and rules, and possibly even a revolutionary framework for digital governance in the dawn of a more rapidly changing digital landscape.”

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