This might not be quite what is intended but it’s the certain result of the plan, Britain is looking to abolish social media in its entirety. The reason for the difference between the aim and the action is simply that people are not understanding the underlying model. We can call this a matter of economics, of business structure, of law, but that’s where we are. The proposal is to move social media from one particular structure over to another. Doing so effectively abolishes said social media.
The plan is to move Facebook, Instagram and so on from something like a telephone system model over to more like a newspaper. To change from their being responsible for only what they do to their being responsible for what we do. At which point the basic idea of social media stops working. But that is what is proposed:
Ministers are talking about redefining the role of social networks to hold them directly liable for the content that gets published on their platforms, in effect enshrining them as publishers in law.
The easiest way to explain this is to think of the law of libel. Imagine I write a piece for The Times, as I have done. And, as I haven’t, I libel someone. Say, claim that a peer of the realm is aiding people in dodging tax by allowing his Swiss bank to issue pre-paid debit cards, knowingly doing so to aid in tax evasion even. Because The Times is a publisher then both they and I are responsible for any libel case that might occur. They employ lawyers to read what is published to guard against this of course. Read everything, before publication, to ensure.
The same would be true if I made such a wild claim upon my blog. I am liable as the writer, I’m also liable as the publisher. I might, for example, have to pay costs and damages, move from a large house into a small one to finance such.
Now imagine that I make the same claim in a telephone call. Do we hold BT liable for my libel? Of course not, we agree that BT is providing the platform but they’re not responsible for the content. Yes, OK, it’s spoken so not libel anyway but you get the idea.
Currently social media operates on the telephone company model. Because that’s the right model for what they do. 2 billion of us out here use Facebook to say stuff. Facebook isn’t commissioning, editing, paying for nor, therefore, checking everything before publication. They’re providing the platform upon which we say such things.
Now note what the proposal is. Social media should be regarded as publishers. They are responsible for the content. That kills the very idea, doesn’t it? In exactly the same manner that making the telephone company responsible for the conversations does. It’s simply not possible to provide the platform upon which we say things if they are responsible for what we say.
They will have to institute the same checks that publishers do. Lawyers reading every post before publication. Can we do that for the things that 2 billion people say? Nope, we can’t. So, that’s a ban on social media then, isn’t it?
This isn’t because anyone actually does want to abolish social media of course, it’s just because politicians are ignorant. But then that explains so much of governance, doesn’t it?