Social media platforms’ business model promotes misinformation

Transparency can no longer be a choice for social media platforms, the Shorenstein Center argues. That boils down to companies sharing more data with the public.

 

Transparency: What’s Gone Wrong with Social Media and What Can We Do About It?
Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy
By Wael Ghonim and Jake Rashbass
March 27, 2018

Once a hub for family photos and friend updates, social media has evolved into a platform that fosters polarization and misinformation. In an article from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center, Wael Ghonim and Jake Rashbass explore the necessary changes for a future in which social media is a “productive, responsible and ethical force.”

Sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter use algorithms to maximize advertisement revenue. But these algorithms do not consider truthfulness, and boost posts that users are likely to spend more time viewing.

Ghonim and Rashbass argue that making the numerical outcomes of these algorithms visible will help reform social media’s engagement-driven business model. Once the public can see the high number of users  exposed to misinformation because of the algorithms, they will be able to understand the extent of the problem, and social media platforms will work to fix it.