It’s been clear for years that tech platforms needed to get their houses in order ahead of the 2020 election. They’ve had ample time to plan for and implement solutions to curtail the spread of junk news, conspiracy theories, lies, and misleading information on their platforms. And yet, despite promise after promise about how serious they are committed to addressing these problems, it’s hard to describe the measures taken by these companies as anything more than baby steps. Yes, a tiny label applied hours after the President of the United States posts information lying about the election process is better than nothing — but it’s hard to think it’s the best platforms can do.
Every single day we see disinformation and misinformation continue to flourish on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Platforms have certainly gotten better at preventing foreign interference — and sure, they deserve credit for that. But these companies still appear largely unprepared for how to address the bad info that courses through their platforms via domestic actors. Little information labels don’t cut it. And with a major election just weeks away, and as Trump and his allies peddle outright lies, it is both disconcerting and alarming that, years later, we are still in a position where millions of people are poisoned with garbage information each day.
It’s happening in front of us
It’s going to get worse
“There’s just too much s**t”
Gertz cited the first time Trump held a rally during the pandemic, the first time he celebrated violence against a journalist, and the first time he made a bigoted attack against Rep. Ilhan Omar. “But now the zone has been flooded,” Gertz wrote. “Scan the front pages of major news websites … and you’ll have to search hard to find mention of any of this.” Gertz concluded, “Trump and his allies have overwhelmed the system. There’s just too much s**t.”