Not all dis- and misinformation is foreign, so that’s why this is such a large problem because there are many domestic actors that engage in disinformation campaigns as well. So, the narratives that we’ve seen across the space come from so many different people that sometimes it can be hard to target the the problem to one particular actor or one particular motive.
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I want you to know that they are just pathmakers and ‑breakers in their field. There’s a way in which you’re taught to be a scholar and you’re taught to be pragmatic in the choice of your projects, you’re taught to be careful in the ways in which you speak in public, and these two do it better than anyone I know.
In this moment that we’re in today with technology, where we’re I think shifting finally into a mode where it’s possible to be critical without getting sneered at, if we kind of look back at the…I don’t know, the optimistic aspirationalism that we’ve been using to encounter technology in the broadest sense, and we look back on those moments of the recent past or even the distant past, we can see how we knew how things were going to turn out, actually. We just weren’t paying them heed.
The key thing that Congress realized…was that if you want platforms to moderate, you need to give them both of those immunities. You can’t just say, “You’re free to moderate, go do it,” you have to also say, “And, if you undertake to moderate but you miss something and there’s you know, defamation still on the platform or whatever, the fact that you tried to moderate won’t be held against you.”
We’re focused on what we call countering foreign influence but really what we’re trying to do is build national resilience to foreign influence activities. And so for us a lot of what we do is public education and public awareness outreach to different communities, provide resources that folks can use to better understand both the risk and then ways to mitigate the risk.
If you’re looking to the question how can the whole thing be regulated, how can one get control of this whole environment, so as to create a world in which those original freedoms that Barlow was talking about are shared by everyone, the answer is you can’t do it.
It’s been really interesting to see the entire world pay attention to one topic. This is something somewhat unprecedented. We have had outbreaks in the era of social media misinformation before. Zika in 2015, Ebola 2018, right. So there have been a range of moments in which diseases have captivated public attention. But usually they tend to stay at least somewhat geographically confined in terms of attention.
The premise of our project is really that we are surrounded by machines that are reading what we write, and judging us based on whatever they think we’re saying.