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Tech Giants Can No Longer Stop Misinformation. It’s Every Man and Woman for Themselves.

by | Nov 1, 2021 | Writing

“Abandon that platform right now! They’re allowing misinformation.”

That’s a message I got. The reader wants me to turn my back on an entire platform because they claim that misinformation is allowed to be posted. I totally disagree.

Tech platforms can’t be the nanny police. They can’t protect grown adults from misinformation. Here’s why.

Misinformation is a problem in of itself

I don’t expect any platform to save me from misinformation. It’s an impossible ask. In doing so they will accidentally destroy freedom of speech. What’s misinformation, is up for debate. Let me give you a clear example.

For the last two years I’ve lived in lockdown. Now before you jump to conclusions I’m a double jabbed, mask-wearing, follow the government health advice kind of guy. And that’s exactly what I’ve done.

I’ve been pro lockdowns and so have most Australians I know. If during the global health crisis you said anything bad about lockdowns, where I’m from, then you’d be accused of spreading misinformation.

But the narrative has slowly changed.

Suicide rates have increased. Mental health issues have exploded. Even my own health has deteriorated.

I recently had sharp pains in my leg. I went to the doctor and he sent me to a physio. It turns out a disc in my back is stuffed. In fact my whole back has been screwed from sitting at home for nearly two years.

Then I screwed up my hearing and got tinnitus by listening to music every day through headphones for long periods of time. My fitness level has dropped too. My core is weak. I can’t run anymore. A one-hour walk leaves me tired.

Many people in my country are feeling the after-effects of lockdown. In a matter of months we’ve done a complete 360. We are now no longer so sure that lockdowns are the answer to coroni-macaroni.

How the heck does a tech platform decide whether the lockdown conversation is misinformation that’s harmful to humans, or a legitimate conversation that needs to be had on their platform.

They can’t.

No platform should play god

When tech companies try to play god it’s a giant flop. Look at all the examples from 2020. Did all of the moderation and banning stop anything bad happening? No.

Instead, humans found other apps that allowed their conversations to be had and switched to them. Did countries who oppose the internet stop it? Nope. Did governments successfully stop torrents? Nope. Did any country ban bitcoin and successfully stop their citizens from buying it? Nope.

The internet can’t be stopped. The internet has more power than any tech platform. If big tech plays god then users will go to platforms that don’t interfere with humanity’s desire to have important conversations.

The problem with big tech playing god is they’re too tempted by financial interests to make decisions that don’t align with the good of the users. Most content platforms are funded by ads. If an advertiser says “ban this content or we’ll stop paying you,” do you really think a tech company will ignore them? Of course not.

Advertisers outrank social media users.

Those who pay the bills determine the rules.

It’s too late to save the world from misinformation

Web 3.0 is already here. Every app and service we use online is being replaced by a decentralized one. Decentralized Youtube, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp are right on our doorstep. It’s only a matter of time.

That’s why the reader who contacted me about their disgust with a certain tech platform is tough out of luck. A decentralized internet works differently.

Take bitcoin for example. If you’re angry about bitcoin you can’t abuse the founder on Twitter. There is no bitcoin office in Silicon Valley that you can go and cry to. There’s no media relations or smug startup bro in a t-shirt you can reach out to on LinkedIn.

A decentralized internet is run by code. Code has no feelings. Opt-in or opt-out — that’s your only option. I admit it’s going to be a completely different future. Intervention by governments and authorities is going to be a lot harder.

You could argue we’re moving from each being part of a sovereign country, to becoming entirely sovereign selves. The web will become one big country. Code governs the rules. Global democracy enabled by digital votes from all users determine what can and can’t happen on each tech platform.

Content moderation is done by the users. Each app has its own guidelines. If you don’t like the guidelines you change the content apps you use to ones that you do agree with. That’s the best solution there will be based on the current Web 3.0 structure.

Final Thought

I won’t stop publishing content on any big tech platform because they refuse to take down content.

Misinformation is subjective. Freedom of speech is more important. Allowing conversations to occur is how we come up with important solutions. And even if they did agree to take down misinformation, it doesn’t matter. Pretty soon you’ll be using entirely decentralized apps (dApps) built on top of blockchain technology such as Ethereum.

We’re on our own folks.

It’s time to be adults and not let our minds be easily manipulated anymore by misinformation. You’re mature enough to dissect the content you consume and decide to be influenced by it or not. As soon as we start to protect adult minds from certain types of information we destroy free thinking.

In doing so we nuke creativity. Nobody wants to live in a world like that. It’s time to stop expecting tech platforms to do the right thing. Those days are over. They had their chance and proved the model to be flawed.

Web 3.0 is scary, I get it. But it’s here whether you like it or not. That’s why it’s every man and woman for themselves.

Work on your critical thinking ability to stay safe from misinformation.

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