Taking Responsibility

The issue of how to tackle misinformation is not a simple black and white issue. It is vital that we acknowledge all of the gray areas included when we approach this topic. There is no simple solution to this problem, but we should all be determined to fight it.

First, we need to focus on tackling misinformation from both a top-down and a bottom-up approach. The top-down approach is important because this issue needs to be addressed in an official manner, especially by top executives. These top officials, such as the CEOs of Twitter and Facebook, need to be taking steps toward this process and making changes to their policies. On the other hand, the bottom-up approach is important because it gives the public an opportunity to use their voice and speak up about how they think it should be handled.

Social media platforms and technology companies are an important part of modern society, and they should bear some of the responsibility for diminishing misinformation. They should not be bearing all of the responsibility, and they legally cannot due to Section 230, but they should bear some of the weight. According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2021, 59% of Americans want tech companies to restrict misinformation online, so this is clearly a popular idea. However, this idea has several disadvantages involved, including the issue of possible censorship. This same Pew Research study also found that 39% of Americans believe that protecting the freedom of information is more important than restricting false information.

A screenshot from the Pew Research Center study described in the above paragraph.
Pew Research Center chart

While these platforms and companies are vital, media literacy organizations should also be responsible for eliminating misinformation and introducing media skills to people so that misinformation can be fought on an individual basis. 

I do not necessarily think that technology companies should pay a price to fix misinformation, but they do need to take more responsibility for it. The current United States surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy has even blamed tech companies for the lack of action against misinformation. These companies and social media websites should not be punished for their inaction, especially because people who use those platforms and technologies have to agree to terms and conditions before even opening an account, but they need to have more regulation.

The act of completely diminishing misinformation is a very complex process that will take a combination of different steps. While I wish the government would do something to stop this issue, as governments all around the world have done, there is a huge part of me that does not want them to interfere with this issue. It is not possible to completely trust the government, so while I want more policies to be enacted regarding this issue, I would feel uncomfortable knowing that they could easily take advantage of this situation and push propaganda.Our ultimate goal should be to ensure that everyone has access to the truth. This is a very difficult task, and perhaps it will never be done, but this is what we should strive for. Misinformation has been around for a very long time, so while this is not specifically a media issue, we need to start there and work our way around to tackling other sides of this issue.

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