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Mr. Pickles goes to Washington

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People tell lies on social media. What, if anything, should social media do about it? Members of the
 
February 8 · Issue #79 · View online
The Interface
People tell lies on social media. What, if anything, should social media do about it? Members of the United Kingdom’s House of Commons select committee traveled to Washington today to say that, in their opinion, social media companies should do much more
The House of Commons select committee usually receives evidence in the U.K. parliament, but the hearing, held on Thursday at George Washington University, is a sign of the global pressure social media companies are facing to get more control of their free-wheeling platforms.
The lawmakers suggested the problems stem from lack of regulation and advertising-dependent business models that reward click-bait and inflammatory material. “Perhaps it’s time for regulation,” said Rebecca Pow, a member of the parliamentary panel.
Bloomberg reports on a number of tense exchanges at today’s hearings, starting with Facebook:
In one particularly tense exchange, Facebook executives were pressed about not preventing illegal purchases of campaign ads in the U.K. by individuals or groups who live outside the country. Simon Milner, a policy director for the company, said it wasn’t Facebook’s responsibility to regulate those campaign purchases. “You are not complying with the law,” Ian Lucas, a member of parliament, angrily responded. Collins then compared Milner’s defense to a bank claiming ignorance when facilitating a money laundering scheme.
After the social media platforms testified, Collins told reporters that the committee will consider in its report “what sort of liability should they have for failing to act when bad content is brought clearly to their attention.”
But my favorite moment came when the improbably named Nick Pickles, the head of policy for Twitter in the UK, told the panel that Twitter should not be asked to gauge the truth content of tweets:
“I don’t think technology companies should be deciding during elections what is true and what is not true, which is what you’re asking us to do,” Pickles said angrily.
Committee member Giles Watling suggested removing misinformation was wholly in Twitter’s interest. “Otherwise you will lose confidence and you will lose trust and ultimately you will lose business,” he said.
Pickles replied that foreign despots want Twitter to silence the opposition. “There is a delicate line to tread,” he said.
A delicate line indeed, Mr. Pickles. For all their fulminating, UK politicians don’t seem to have many ideas for how, exactly, companies like Twitter ought to prevent the spread of misinformation. On one hand, the big platforms all protest that they’re hiring thousands of people to weed out bad actors. On the other, news outlets still seem to be identifying Russian propaganda faster than they can. 
Maybe the platforms should just spend more money?
Damian Collins, the Conservative chairman of the commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee, suggested [YouTube] was spending an estimated 0.1% of $10bn in advertising revenue on policing its content, which he compared to “a sticking plaster on a gaping wound”.
Nothing was resolved, and everyone seems to have left the room a little more angry than they walked in.
This was a metaphor.

Democracy
Twitter failed to remove hundreds of Russian propaganda videos aimed at Americans
Internet giants back Senate effort to reinstate net neutrality rules
Study: Facebook’s plan to rate the media could actually work.
The Week in Fact-Checking: Facebook takes baby steps with fact-checkers
Elsewhere
Twitter lost users in the US again, but it finally made a profit
Twitter says people are tweeting more, but not longer, with 280-character limit
Twitter has lost $2 billion since going public. Facebook has made $34 billion.
As Twitter stock soars, its video app Periscope is struggling
Behavior outside Twitch can now lead to an indefinite ban
At Tencent, Tensions Rise Over the Future of WeChat
How to Make $6,500 by Pretending to Be Elon Musk on Twitter
Launches
You can now create your own custom face lenses on Snapchat
WhatsApp’s long-awaited digital payments service goes live in India
Facebook brings animation tools to its Quill VR painting app
Takes
Snap Mania and Metamarkets
Meanwhile, the Snapchat redesign is finally rolling out:
Casey Neistat
HOW TO FIX SNAPCHAT UPDATE; delete the app, open instagram.
10:24 AM - 8 Feb 2018
And finally ...
Facebook is actually testing a dislike button — it’s just calling it a “downvote.” Bring it on!
Taylor Lorenz
Facebook is testing downvoting comments https://t.co/SBOSQITotO
1:57 PM - 8 Feb 2018
Talk to me
Questions? Comments? Pickles? casey@theverge.com 
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