If Big Tech has the will, research can show the way to...

If Big Tech has the will, research can show the way to self-regulation


Governments and observers across the world have repeatedly raised concerns about the monopoly power of Big Tech companies and the role the companies play in disseminating misinformation. In response, Big Tech companies have tried to preempt regulations by regulating themselves.

With Facebook’s announcement that its Oversight Board will make a decision about whether former President Donald Trump can regain access to his account after the company suspended it, this and other high-profile moves by technology to address misinformation have reignited the debate about what responsible self-regulation by technology should look like.

Research shows three key ways self-regulation can work: deprioritize engagement, label misinformation and crowdsource accuracy verification.

Deprioritize engagement

platforms are built for constant interaction, and the companies design the algorithms that choose which posts people see to keep their users engaged. Studies show falsehoods spread faster than truth on social media, often because people find news that triggers emotions to be more engaging, which makes it more likely they will read, react to and share such news. This effect gets amplified through algorithmic recommendations. My own work shows that people engage with YouTube videos about diabetes more often when the videos are less informative.

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