Social media websites and online services, created to profit from connecting people and encouraging global conversations, have a deep and troubling dark side. Malicious users have exploited these forums for free speech in ways that weaken shared norms of civility, trust and openness. This includes not just bullying and shaming of individuals, but also dealing significant damage to society as a whole.
Americans – and people around the world – will spend much of 2018 discussing how to handle the problem of Facebook, Twitter, Google and their ilk reaping massive profits while threatening democracy and undermining trust in public discourse. As scholars of public accountability and digital media systems, we suggest these companies could find a new way to compete that promotes trust and accuracy, bringing both private profits and public benefits.
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