Social Media Corporatocracy – Self-Regulate or Be Damned

Posted on November 17, 2012


My earlier Blog on the subject ‘Social Media – Accountability’ made for some heated debate in a post event drinks session championed by a defensive cadre of the twitterati advocating the freedom of speech argument. An old chestnut I empathise with, but see it as a worn out defence. My view being it is time the Social Media Corporatocracy confronted their responsibilities and got their house in order. Addressing a need to become more accountable for the content they syndicate from their membership or put in place mechanism’s that prevent the kind of free-for-all we have recently witnessed to the detriment of innocent parties.

That appeared un-satisfactory to the twitterati, I came away somewhat disturbed by their underlying attitude, that of a ‘brave new frontier’, somehow exempt from societies rules on defamation, slander, denigration amongst other poignant terms. I do not believe it has, and on a broader canvas of the Internet this is a dangerous attitude that strikes at the heart of the Internet’s credibility as a platform for democracy and in the battle against ‘Big Government’ to coin a phrase championed by Ron Paul in his ‘Farewell to Congress’ speech in which he champions the Internet in this very context.

Back to the point ….

The issue I believe is the engagement process by which social media sites attract membership and the mechanisms put in place by those site operators. It is time that the Social Media Corporatocracy applied a Moral Compass to their actions if they wish to avoid litigation and formal regulation which means they need to better self-regulate.

I would suggest more robust self-regulation as a minimum reasonable demand by the litigants who have recently fallen victim of the invidious public social media feeds, as part of any settlement. Such self-regulation could include:

  1. Social Media owners who wish to have an uncontrolled (no mediation or content validation delay) public information feed accept and take FULL responsibility and are FULLY accountable for that which they publish.
  2. Making their environments EXCLUSIVE MEMEBERS ONLY, with a clear set of warnings that content is unregulated, un-validated and not mediated, and as such individuals consume at their own risk.
  3. The option of a Public information feed service as an Opt-In for members. By so Opting-In members accept FULL responsibility and are FULLY accountable for that which they publish.
  4. It would be mandatory that any individuals wishing to Opt-In to public and unprotected Social Media information services have their identities validated BEFORE they are permitted to publish to an unprotected live feed. Validation through a current Credit Card would suffice, with public feed rights withdrawn in the event of the Card Expiring and non- renewal.

The above suggested self-regulation measures are by no means exhaustive in detail but aim to provide a flavour of what would help address the current waves of Social Media abuse.

A by-product of this type of self-regulation is the containment of the ‘anonymous’ voices. The proposition is that the ‘anonymous’ can still persist BUT they are contained behind the membership closed doors of their elected Social Media forum.

I have no doubt that this would be contested very strongly by the social media corporatocracy after all they feed on this kind of perverse publicity, which in turn pumps there hugely overinflated and in many cases economic gravity defying valuations.

The reality is the Social Media Corporatocracy must start to demonstrate a responsibility to protect the innocent from rogue users, they have little more than a fig leaf in their own defence at the moment. …..  The Emperor’s New Clothes.