I have never linked to a podcast on this site, but I thought that the recent This American Life podcast, Anything Can Be Anything, about misinformation and the information wars, was spectacular.
For a more highbrow analysis of similar issues, I enjoyed Renee DiResta’s The Digital Maginot Line.
Also related, a recent BBC interview of a worker at a Macedonian fake news factory.
Many smart people think that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the greatest triumph of tech policy in recent memory. It protects the free flow of information and provides complete immunity to tech platforms that profit from the publication of third-party content. But this regime has also led to the proliferation of anti-vaccination disinformation, birtherism, Sandy Hook denial, and a skyrocketing of faceless propaganda campaigns with an utter disregard to truth.
Stated another way, in a world where it’s a little harder to spread blatant lies online and get away with it (because platforms are more greatly incentivized to stop such activities), Donald Trump probably wouldn’t be the president today. Measles wouldn’t be making a comeback.
First Amendment law is evolved and complex. There are imperfect compromises to be drawn. So, too, shall it be with whatever comes after Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. But complete immunity for platforms that ignore or promote those who propagate disinformation is not a stable social equilibrium. And the sooner we realize it, the better.