Facebook’s Trump Ruling Shows Need for an Independent Public Square

Australia Institute

“The confused ruling by Facebook’s internal oversight board highlights the need for an independent public network that is not driven by commercial objectives,” said Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology.

“The overnight ruling, that upheld the suspension of President Trump but calls on Facebook to establish clearer guidelines for banning users, shows the difficulties in a private business controlling public discourse.

“Ultimately, Facebook’s objective is to maximise the number of people on its platform and – critically – to engage them for as long as possible.

“This has been shown to favour content that is intemperate and divisive, privileging emotion over facts and promoting the most outrageous over the civil. In short, the algorithms reward Trumpian behaviour to serve a profit motive.

“This leaves Facebook attempting to constantly trade their business model with their civic duty, something they are only prepared to do in the most egregious of circumstances.

“The Centre for Responsible Technology believes a serious look needs to be taken at building on our public broadcaster to create a civil social network where clear rules and obligations for users would exist.”

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