This is a CDC statement, so doesn’t it make sense they’d try to use social media to get “their word” out? I’d be more bothered if they failed to use social media to communicate with the public. (Personally, I’ve never used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al, as it always seemed like the worst possible use of leisure time.)
More broadly, there’s much to criticize the CDC about. While the private sector (yeah, “Big Pharma”) saved our bacon with mRNA immunization technology, the US government has failed repeatedly in accomplishing much of anything… other than spending our grandchildren’s money and getting in the way. Unless aircraft carriers are involved, capitalism tends to work best in a crunch.
It makes sense, yes, but then FB is essentially acting as a marketing arm of the federal government. Which means that the first amendment comes into play (I would think… I’m not a constitutional scholar but there’s something very creepy about the government telling social media what’s acceptable for the public to hear).
Given the strong ties between govt agencies and industry, what we’re looking at is explicit coordination among:
Given the incredible profits involved, and the fact that the FDA is largely funded by industry, this unholy trinity should give everyone pause.
@SomeGuy , you have the impression that the private sector saved our bacon because of the information that you’ve been exposed to. If you were hearing from all the epidemiologists and doctors who are concerned about side effects of the mRNA technology or the ones who are desperately trying to get the word about about Ivermectin and other interventions for Covid, you might have a different take on that - or maybe not, but it’s hard to say, isn’t it?
The problem I have with what is going on with Facebook et al is that they claim to be protected from libel and otherwise being held responsible for what is posted on their sites because they are not publishers, just platforms. Except now they are making editorial decisions and censoring people for saying things they disagree with.
@Madeleine While I share your displeasure at how it all works, I’m still unclear as to a viable alternative… If Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, don’t want my opinions heard on their platforms, I have no right to force them, do I?
As for 1st Amendment (i.e., “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech”), Congress hasn’t done that here. Not seeing a 1st Amendment issue. On the contrary, Section 230 (below) gives them immunity from liability for speech posted on their platforms. That’s the opposite of suppressing speech.
Regardless, Facebook is an advertising company - that’s their business model. You provide your eyeballs, they show you stuff paid for by their customers. You’re not the customer. On the contrary… your eyeballs (and privacy) are Facebook’s product.
@GME I’m not seeing any conflict or hypocrisy here. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects websites from liability for opinions expressed on their platforms. It does not say they are forced to publish an opinion.
A newspaper isn’t responsible for op-ed opinions expressed, but that doesn’t mean they’re obligated to print my opinions. Editorial staffs are paid to censor opinions - especially ones the owners don’t like. If they fail to, they’re not doing their private sector job properly.
For those who are bothered by how Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., operate, I strongly recommend doing what I do… refrain from opening an account and wasting your time (and breaching your privacy) by using them. (FWIW: I refrain from investing in their stocks - which would make me an owner - because I don’t care for them.) Just me
I fully agree, and good for you. I’m almost there myself - use FB a bit for business but not for personal stuff, and don’t actually have any other social media accounts. However, I’m disturbed by how they’re shaping the consensus. Even if it’s not Congress that’s limiting speech on the platforms, there’s something definitely unethical about a govt agency getting involved in what is allowed on these apps. I agree that it’s in the CDC’s best interest to have the message on all social media reflect their narrative; I just don’t think it’s in the public’s best interest.
@Madeleine Sounds like we’re totally on the same page. Except, I wouldn’t call it unethical.
We’ve been told that journalism is supposed to be a bias-free profession. That’s a very modern (and laughable) concept.
Throughout the centuries (especially in America), newspapers, radio and TV stations were understood by all to be highly biased. The “Fairness Doctrine” was a brief attempt to force-feed counteropinions into the media - and it failed miserably and was ultimately abandoned.
Even back in Colonial America, the newspapers were outrightly aligned with political issues - and made that clear to attract their readers. There were revolutionary papers and loyalist papers.
In fact, our revered Federalist Papers were just a series of newspaper opinion pieces written by Jay, Hamilton, and Madison in an effort to push their points of view while the Constitution was being considered for ratification by the states. No one misunderstood that the media was biased.
Today’s public seems to have gotten confused about this - such that the surprise and outrage are a bit amusing.
Yes! I agree. I knew this about 18th C media and definitely got a big dose of reminders this year.
The unethical part comes from the collusion between industry-influenced policy makers and the platforms. My tax dollars are funding the push of one particular agenda and the marketing of that agenda to my fellow citizens
If they are a platform, they are a platform. Anyone can post anything as long as it isn’t illegal. Once you start talking about editorial staff, you are talking about a publisher. FB is trying to have it both ways. If the NYT publishes an article or letter to the editor that libels me, I can sue them because they are a publisher and they had the option to print the article or letter or not. If someone libels me on FB and I sue FB, you can bet they would defend themselves by claiming they have no responsibility for what is on their site, they are just a platform. A few years ago that might have held water, but now that they are censoring and removing people because they don’t like the perfectly legal thing they are saying, they have swerved over into the publisher lane.
I am sure a lawsuit is already on it’s way and the courts will decide.
but isn’t that what’s in question?
A privately owned company that works out a plan with the government of what constitutes “misinformation” is … well, it seems to me that it’s no longer fully in the private realm.
Here’s the analogous situation relative to nutrition that’s probably not too much of a stretch at this point: processed food and plant-based food companies (with a clear profit motive) help create the government policies through both lobbying and direct funding of regulatory agencies*. The federal agencies then collaborate with social media to label ketogenic and low-carb diets “dangerous,” to blame various health ills on high-fat animal foods, and any to label as “misinformation” any posting of science supporting them.
Experts who disagree are sidelined, and others are afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs or being cancelled. The public comes to think that all scientists fully agree that low-carb is dangerous and must be stopped. So when it comes time to approve policies that ban high-fat foods or meats, which most people now genuinely believe are bad and dangerous, the public clamors for policy-makers to limit access to those foods and support the processed alternatives.
*the FDA gets 45% of its funding from industry. That’s on the FDA website and I’ve seen that for regulation, that number is actually 65% but I can’t verify the source for that.