Biz Stone, Carolyn McCall, and Peter Tufano discuss online safety, fake news and filter bubbles
There is free speech and there are scientifically proven facts. There is fake news and thoughtless misinterpretation. There is anonymous trolling and there is real and present danger. Ever since Web 2.0 first offered platforms and a voice to the person in the street, established and new media companies have been operating in a minefield affecting reputations, lives, and even democratic systems.
For some years a common response to these challenges has been, ‘But we believe in free speech.’ Frankly this no longer cuts it. There is a growing realisation amongst some media companies – both old and new – that there needs to be a deeper conversation and more nuanced understanding of the complexities of the new media environment. Dean Peter Tufano explored this with ITV CEO Dame Carolyn McCall and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone in a Distinguished Speaker Seminar at Oxford Saïd.
Safety very soon emerged as a priority. Stone, who returned to Twitter in 2017, admitted that they had not anticipated these difficulties when building the platform: ‘We thought about spam but we definitely didn’t anticipate filter bubbles [where people encounter only beliefs and opinions that coincide with their own] and the manipulation of those filter bubbles by other states in order to anger and incite people and create real-world harm.’