. Technically, a social media platform is a company or technology that enables communications and sharing of information amongst users. A telecom company is a typical example of a platform where whatever you share gets communicated as it is without the telecom company censoring or filtering any content. As against this, a publisher is an entity that curates, edits and then shares content. Newspapers and TV channels are typical examples of publishers and publishers are responsible for whatever is shared by them. Today, internet companies like Facebook and Twitter are not only moderating and editing content but also controlling how content is consumed – both Facebook and Twitter have algorithms which determine what shows up on our feed and timeline. Thus, they are increasingly becoming more of publishers than a platform. And once they are recognised as a publisher they will need to conform to laws and regulations that apply to publishers.
Facebook claims that it has community standards for regulating content in order to ensure authenticity, safety, privacy and dignity of individuals but the challenge has been that these community standards have often been critiqued for being biased in their enforcement. Twitter recently rolled out Twitter Fact Check with which it flags tweets that their checkers feel are in violation of their truth policy. Such tweets come with a line below that advises users to do a check on the post which Twitter feels could be a lie or harmful. This has also been observed to be applied selectively and many in the United States feel that Twitter is biased against the Republicans. Both Facebook and Twitter use AI tools to filter content and flag hate speech – but the inherent bias in those tools, whether deliberate or not raises many moral and legal questions.