Social Media is improving the Online Landscape

With all the shit social media sites are getting for hate speech and fake news on their sites, you have to give them credit where credit is due.

Over the past months’ many tweaks have been made for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and others, barely noticeable for the average user:

Profanity and off-topic filters sort comments accordingly. On Twitter, on-topic and civil comments are prioritized over on-topic comments, over off-topic and negative comments. This is also the order in which they show up with the last category being greyed out entirely. You have to click to see the negative comments.

This sounds like a healthy way of protecting people from harmful comments while limiting free speech only minimally. The separation of toxic comments discourages trolls and haters, while critical comments still show up lower on the list and discourage ideologic eco-chambers.

The other major improvement is the fact-checking system famously pointing out Donald Trump’s lies. Being able to see current evidence-based information on a topic encourages the user to interact and learn about the topic, but also points out users who are bad actors and promote fake news.

The best part of all of this is that these platforms are owned by private companies, and therefore could enforce any kind of comment policy and censor whatever they want; it is their freedom of speech to do so. But by filtering content transparently for the user, the user itself becomes aware of how social media works and where content turns from critical to hurtful to harmful.

It is not perfect, but way better than it was only a year ago and the direction we are heading towards looks promising.