Social media platforms must actively label misinformation – Central Times
Spotify has started adding content advisories to podcast episodes discussing COVID-19 following a series of pandemic and vaccine allegations made by popular podcast host Joe Rogan. These claims by Rogan have prompted backlash from creators who have boycotted the platform to protest the growing misinformation.
Spotify’s decision sparked outrage online. Free speech advocates have taken to the internet to defend Rogan’s right to say whatever he wants.
As a journalism student, freedom of expression is an important value for me and for everyone I work with. Otherwise, nothing would prevent the powers that be from censoring things that often have to be said.
However, an important distinction must be made. Established journalists rely on a reputation for factual reporting and a code of ethics to maintain their credibility. Those who blatantly misinform the public, distort data and twist conclusions cannot play at dressing up as journalists.
People with large audiences who depend on them for information should not make statements that lack scientific validity. Unfortunately, some influential people have demonstrated that the truth is no longer the priority.
For starters, Rogan is a champion of a product known as ivermectin. According to Roz Laing, Victoria Gillan and Eileen Devaney, of “Trends in Parasitology” Scientific Journal.
In June 2021, Rogan spoke to Bret Weinstien, a biologist who claimed that “ivermectin alone, if used correctly, is capable of driving [COVID-19] to extinction,” according to the washington post.
Unfortunately, this statement was quite far from the truth. Why? Because Weinstein’s study was far from credible.
The study in question was ultimately withdrawn due to “major data issues”, according to the washington post. Additionally, “the study was also conducted by people affiliated with an interest group that advocates the use of ivermectin,” Politics reported.
On his podcast, Rogan also said that “young and healthy” people don’t “need” the vaccine. When given the chance to change his rhetoric, Rogan didn’t back down despite the plethora of studies showing that the vaccine decreases the likelihood of infection.
Spotify made the right choice in deciding to report misinformation. Free speech and misinformation are not the same, and social media companies need to differentiate between them. Without verification of information, the very fabric of the conversation is threatened by those who present fiction as fact.
While we can’t and shouldn’t manage how people think, the facts deserve to be separated from the lies. In the coming months, I hope to see more platforms working to ensure that the information that exists on their platforms is verified.
Fact-checking mainstream media sources is a necessity for anyone who values the safety and security of our country and the world.