Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with two emergency medicine physicians about state medical boards, which grant physicians the licenses that authorize them to practice medicine, and how they could play a more aggressive role in curbing falsehoods.
Latest in Arbiters of Truth
Algorithms! We hear a lot about them. They drive social media platforms and, according to popular understanding, are responsible for a great deal of what’s wrong about the internet today—and maybe the downfall of democracy itself. But … what exactly are algorithms? And, given they’re not going away, what should they be designed to do?
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is midway through a blockbuster series of hearings exploring Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. Central to those efforts, of course, was the Big Lie—the false notion that Trump was cheated out of victory in 2020.
If you’ve been watching the hearings convened by the House select committee on Jan. 6, you’ve seen a great deal about how the Trump campaign generated and spread falsehoods about supposed election fraud in 2020. As the committee has argued, those falsehoods were crucial in generating the political energy that culminated in the explosion of the January 6 insurrection.
If you loaded up the internet or turned on the television somewhere in the United States over the last two months, it’s been impossible to avoid news coverage of the defamation trial of actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard—both of whom sued each other over a dispute relating to allegations by Heard of domestic abuse by Depp. In early June, a Virginia jury found that both had defamed the other.
On May 31, by a five-four vote, the Supreme Court blocked a Texas law from going into effect that would have sharply limited how social media companies could moderate their platforms and required companies to abide by various transparency requirements. We’ve covered the law on this show before—we recorded an episode right after the U.S.
As transparency reporting about content moderation enforcement has become standard across the platform industry, there's been growing questions about the reliability and accuracy of the reports the platforms are producing. With all reporting being entirely voluntary and the content moderation industry in general being very opaque, it’s hard to know how much to trust the figures that companies report in their quarterly or biannual enforcement reports.
On May 14, a shooter attacked a supermarket in a historically Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, killing ten people and wounding three. The streaming platform Twitch quickly disabled the livestream the shooter had published of the attack—but video of the violence, and copies of the white supremacist manifesto released by the attacker online, continue to circulate on the internet.
On May 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit allowed an aggressive new Texas law regulating social media to go into effect. The law, known as HB20, seeks to restrict large social media platforms from taking down content on the basis of viewpoint—effectively restricting companies from engaging in a great deal of the content moderation that they currently perform.
Internet blackouts are on the rise. Since 2016, governments around the world have fully or partially shut down access to the internet almost 1000 times, according to a tally by the human rights organization Access Now. As the power of the internet grows, this tactic has only become more common as a means of political repression. Why is this and how, exactly, does a government go about turning off the internet?