Opinion: The algorithm is the source of social media evil

Recently, Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, declared that Twitter will soon end political and issue advertising on their platform. @Jack pointed out the evils of social media advertising and how they“present entirely new challenges to civic discourse.” He is right about the symptoms, but not the disease or the cure.Now pundits are calling for Facebook and other social media platforms to follow Twitter.

@Jack’s analysis of the evils of algorithm-driven advertising are completely correct, but his solution is wrong. The problem isn’t advertising, it’s the algorithm. The solution isn’t to get rid of political advertising but instead to not allow the algorithm to distort political discussion. If the algorithm weren’t controlling who does and does not see an ad, our society would be much better off.

In the days before social media, advertisements were “broadcast” to people. All the people. You produced an ad and sent it out into the world for almost everyone to see. The people who agreed with you, those who knew nothing about the topic, and those who strongly disagreed all saw the ad. If you lied, you could be sure of knowing that your opponents would find out and call you out on it. If your arguments were debatable, you could expect them to be debated.  

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Twitter by Brett Jordan is licensed under Unsplash Unsplash License