Revelations concerning widespread abuse by many commercially available social media platforms are deeply troubling. These huge platforms have become purveyors of false advertising, both political and commercial, have participated in providing insidious foreign influence and become vehicles for rampant cyber-bullying as well as child pornography. Public trust has been violated in numerous ways, including the sale of private information, the reliance on a lack of user understanding regarding privacy settings and a paucity of legislative and self-regulation in the industry. We have all observed a failure to monitor policy and practice until finally compelled by public and political pressures. Most alarming is the willful use of the First Amendment as a shield to ignore or avoid actions that will eliminate abuse and regain public trust with ethical behavior.
There is an approach that would effectively address many of the aforementioned unacceptable realities. That approach would be a Public Option Social Media Platform. A nonprofit platform that would offer all of the original family and friend communication services that are not problematic. There would be no advertising and no ability to disseminate false, dangerous or destructive news sources.
Conveniently, the vehicle for this concept already exists. According to its published goals and objectives, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a private, nonprofit corporation created and funded by Congress in 1967. CPB’s mission is to ensure universal access, over-the-air and online, to high-quality content and telecommunications services that are commercial free and free of charge.
Just as National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) were originally designed as public options to commercial radio and television, so would this Public Social Media (PSM) option be available to those who choose to enroll.
It should be emphasized that this public option, as part of the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, like the proposals for a health care public insurance option, would be a choice to be made by each individual and would in no way be mandatory. In fact, there would be many who would want more than such a public option might offer and choose the commercial options that presently exist. It is also possible that enough individuals would support the public option so that market place forces could generate positive changes in the commercial environment.
There would certainly be many challenges to the development of an appropriate Public Option Social Media Platform but perhaps the time has come in this country for serious consideration.
Michael Rolnick Farmington Hills, Michigan 248-763-2916