Facebook and YouTube have a lot to answer for.
- How much advertising revenue have Facebook and YouTube generated from the views, clicks and shares of the videos from the Christchurch massacre?
- How many Canadian businesses consented to having their advertisements shown in proximity to an unedited video of a mass murder?
- Where can those advertisers go to claim their refunds, and will Facebook and YouTube compensate these companies for damaging their brands by associating them with hate crime?
These questions should be outlandish. Sadly they’re very germane. And that’s before we get in to the question of responsibility for publishing, promoting, and recommending this video to the public. Publishing and promoting hate speech is a crime. Why should Facebook and YouTube be above the law?
This is how our relationship with Big Tech plays out in real life. This is what we get when we let Facebook’s “Community Standards team” govern and censor the Internet. This is what we get when our government chooses to prioritize Silicon Valley billionaires over Canadian decency and democracy, all in the hope of winning a few dollars of foreign investment. They’re dangling a carrot, and we’re dancing for our dinner.
The live broadcast of the events in Christchurch makes a powerful case for ending our hands-off, do as you like approach to the monopolies of Silicon Valley. Their quest for profit and control does not respect democracy, privacy, or freedom of speech.
It’s time to hold these platforms responsible for the content they publish and broadcast, just as we do with every other Canadian media company. Facebook and YouTube shouldn’t get to dictate the terms and conditions of our democracy. As Canadians, we get to choose.