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Regulating tech

Should tech companies be arbiters of truth? Loaded question. They are not news outlets – they are media companies. But they influence in a way that can change everything. How do we think about this in advertising?

Canada is good at regulating – but does banning or regulation solve the problem? In most cases I would argue it doesn’t. (years of drug laws vs the state of addiction). I do see a role for mandatory regulation (heinous content) but I also agree with several tech ethicists and leaders that the underlying condition that created these problems will not change with regulation. Technology is a conduit. I heard someone once say that the internet is, but a mirror and we do not like what we see. Complex question. Here are some things to ponder:

  1. Make ethics part of the criteria in an RFP…use it to help you decide.

  2. How do we help teach people to question more so that they are suspect of fake news? Is that even possible? Do we need to create a standard content verification system…? a content version of the WHO? Ad tech solve?...Should the industry push for this as another layer of transparency.

  3. Does hiding likes in Instagram (a current test in Canada) solve the underlying problems in social media?

  4. Are we willing to use advertising dollars to punish companies that we believe cross the line? Is marketing the arbiter of truth?

Facebook weighed in:

I don’t think we have to be the publisher and we definitely don’t want to be the arbiter of the truth,” Sherry Sandberg said. “We don’t think that’s appropriate for us. We think everyone needs to do their part. Newsrooms have to do their part, media companies, classrooms and technology companies.”

“Well, we all have to do our part to make sure that people see accurate information and figuring out how we do that is something that we’re going to have to see and will evolve. But we know the goal, the goal is for people to see accurate information on Facebook and everywhere else.”

In so many cases it is easy to identify the right and the wrong, it is the stuff in the middle that is challenging.

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