Complex Question: Whether social media platforms bear responsibility for the Capitol Hill riots may not be an easy question to answer

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March 30, 2021 3:30 AM

The ramifications of political biases of the leadership or censorship wings of a platform also need examining.

But, the role of social media, in allowing him the platform to spread the misinformation, had come under criticism, too. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, as per Bloomberg, has admitted to “some responsibility”.But, the role of social media, in allowing him the platform to spread the misinformation, had come under criticism, too. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, as per Bloomberg, has admitted to “some responsibility”.

Twitter was the first social media platform to ban Donald Trump following the Capitol Hill siege, which Trump had helped precipitate by urging his followers to strike against what he termed “election fraud”. Trump, most examining the evidence have said, was a serial offender when it came to spreading misinformation on social media, including when he accused the Democratic Party of trying to “steal” the 2020 presidential elections.

But, the role of social media, in allowing him the platform to spread the misinformation, had come under criticism, too. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, as per Bloomberg, has admitted to “some responsibility”. During a Congressional hearing, Dorsey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) head Sundar Pichai were asked if their platforms bore any responsibility for disseminating ‘Stop the Steal’ disinformation.

Zuckerberg talked about “building effective systems”, while Pichai said the question was far more complex than one that could be answered with either “yes” or “no”. Dorsey said “yes”, but qualified it with the plea that the “broader ecosystem” needs to be taken into consideration and the matter was not just about “technology platforms”.

Whatever you make of tech leaders’ replies, the debate really is whether social media platforms have an editorial responsibility, with concomitant powers of censorship, or are mere whiteboards without any responsibility to check content. The ramifications of political biases of the leadership or censorship wings of a platform also need examining.

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