Michael Bloomberg: Facebook May Need to ‘Read Every Message’ to Stop Fake News

At the first Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg asserted that social media platforms “have to be more aggressive” in fighting “fake news.”

Bloomberg believes that if stopping the spread of “fake news” means that Facebook has to “read every message,” that it is “[Facebook’s] problem, [not] society’s problem.” He said that the proliferation of fake news is “not all their fault,” but, “They have a responsibility. And if they say, ‘Well, there’s no ways to do it other than maybe we’re going to have a human being read every message,’ I’m sorry. You’re going to have to do that.

Bloomberg compared it to other systems of regulation, which he said makes banks “responsible under the law, to make sure that you don’t launder money,” and telephone companies “responsible to know where calls come from.” The former mayor said that he “assumes what [he reads] in the newspapers is true,” saying that supposed Russian interference in American politics is “as bad as attacking our country with weapons” and is “killing democracy.”

This is not the first time Bloomberg has brushed off privacy concerns in the name of security. In an interview with the New York Daily News in 2013, he addressed concerns about drone surveillance by saying that “the argument against using automation, it’s this craziness– ‘Oh, it’s Big Brother.’ Get used to it.”

Bloomberg’s argument led The Atlantic to label him a “surveillance-state extremist,” calling him out for claiming that with rising levels of security, “our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution [have] to change.”

A Yale University study published in September found that flagging stories as “fake news” had little impact in readers’ deciding whether an article was true or false. “Slapping down a big logo also doesn’t do anything,” psychologist David Rand admitted. “People don’t find mainstream media outlets particularly credible.”

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