7 (Real) Ways to Reform Online Misinformation

Platforms, governments, courts and users all need to be held accountable for harmful online lies — and that’s not easy

Photo by Jonathan Simcoe on Unsplash
  1. Design platforms to be open and competitive. If platforms build-in transparency and public “counter-speech,” it could offset damage of those harmed.
  2. Platforms should act to reverse and uncover the amplification of liars, not just their lies. A liar’s online following is reduced when peers or impartial juries determine claims to be false.
  3. Separate original user posts from amplification and tax platform amplification of illegal or harmful content that is not protected speech (e.g. medical or electoral misinformation). This reduces amplification of harms while protecting the original post.
  4. Relax the total immunity of third-party content on platforms [Section 230]. Use sampling mechanisms to assign accountability/liability for harms. In this way, platforms are not responsible for every message they amplify but for a sufficiently large and harmful sample.
  5. Courts should move from a test of truth to a test decisions. Even though courts have allowed lying as protected speech, base judgment on false news’ impact on decisions in areas such as public health and violence.
  6. Governments should grant citizens “in situ” data rights. This allows them to import algorithms into the infrastructure where their data is resident. These data rights give users the power to choose their own curation, creating a true marketplace in ideas.
  7. Platforms or governments can create an “honest ads” market where anyone has the option of guaranteeing their claims. Only people who genuinely offer high quality will guarantee their claims; liars don’t want to guarantee their lies and truth becomes cheaper to produce than fiction.



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