As CNN reported, for a few hours, Google’s “Top Stories” section featured a 4chan message-board discussion that wrongly identified the shooter. Facebook’s “Crisis Response” page surfaced a now-deleted story from far-right website the Gateway Pundit that also blamed the wrong person for the massacre. Both Google and Facebook removed the posts, but the screenshots had already been captured, and questions are being raised again about how much responsibility the two companies are taking upon themselves to prevent the spread of misinformation. “ Google and Facebook Failed Us ,” read the Atlantic’s headline. If companies like Google and Facebook rely too much on human intervention, they face accusations of bias, and it’s a slippery slope to being considered as media owners rather than the passive platforms they would prefer to be. But, as we keep seeing time and time again—with brand safety, fake news, anti-Semitic ad targeting—relying on algorithms alone is a clearly flawed approach. All this comes as scrutiny already is being poured on digital platforms for making it too easy for Russian-backed entities to spread manipulative information in the buildup to the U.S. presidential election. Facebook yesterday estimated 10 million users saw ads it discovered had been paid for by suspected Russian-backed accounts. The company presented congressional investigators with data on thousands of ads bought by Russian actors before and after the election.
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